“The more time they can get to plan this out the greater the chance is. My understanding is the complication is between moving everyone from NSW into the Queensland market. I do think we will know in the next 48 hours if we are going to host it. As I have said all along, let’s hope it goes ahead in Sydney but we are ready to go, if needed.”
As reported by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, the decision review system has emerged as a potential stumbling block in Sydney’s hopes of retaining its cherished Test.
CA, Fox Sports and Seven are in talks on how more than 100 broadcast and events staff can move from Melbourne to Sydney and Brisbane in line with the requirements set out by Queensland health authorities as a result of Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak.
Just how to manage core broadcast staff, and whether they could miss the Sydney Test and possibly return for the fourth and final clash in Brisbane, and the implications there are for the DRS, which requires highly skilled and specialised staff, are issues that need to be addressed.
While MCC chief Fox is keen for Sydney to retain its showpiece cricketing event, the International Cricket Council has officially given the MCC approval to begin preparations, including developing a second pitch.
“You can’t just sit back and wait for it to all happen. Just think about a second pitch … that’s one of the fundamentals,” Fox said on SEN.
“But even your staffing. I have just told my entire workforce to take annual leave, particularly during January when it’s a little quieter, and now we are asking them maybe to come back. We have started our planning – how do you do it if we do increase the number of people in the stadium, those sorts of things. I think we are ready to go. It comes with a few challenges but we will be right.”
CA and the MCC are set to apply for an increase to the capacity of the 30,000 allowed per day for the Boxing Day Test should Melbourne host a second match.
The pressure then turns to curator Matt Page to deliver a high-quality pitch similar to what has been served up this week, one that has fully restored faith in the venue’s ability to deliver a fine contest between bat and ball after the troubles of 2017 and 2018.
“We weren’t happy with it either, particularly I think it was 2017 against England, it wasn’t great. The journey started there and we, obviously, went into the next Boxing Day against India, we had an average rating into a very good rating against New Zealand,” Fox said.
“Last year’s pitch was ideal. Still, it needed improvement. Matt Page and Michael Salvatore, who are head curators, they deserve some credit. They said to me eight weeks ago we are going to get pace and bounce. I am not sure I believed them because I hadn’t seen it before here.
“But [on Boxing Day], all credit them. I thought it was a terrific day. Doesn’t it make for exciting cricket? The fall of all the wickets, an entire team out, and even that last hour, was pretty good here and the atmosphere was electric, even with sort of 20,000 people left in the stadium.”
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald