However, while players and team staff are within a travelling hub and could potentially gain a government exemption to enter Queensland from NSW after the SCG Test, as was the case with the major football codes, interstate movement from Sydney is far more problematic for broadcasters.
Fox Cricket general manager Matt Weiss said the pay-TV outlet could call an SCG Test remotely in part, which is what it will do for the Boxing Day Test, with Kerry O’Keeffe, Brett Lee and Mark Waugh commentating from Sydney while Shane Warne and others are in Melbourne.
But both Seven and Fox Sports don’t want to force commentators or production staff to quarantine for 14 days after a Sydney Test. Even if a Sydney Test was made the last match of the series – and the third Test was switched to Brisbane to avoid the issue of crossing the Queensland border from NSW – the networks would still need callers and crew to cover the Big Bash League.
“Obviously we’re really keen for the Sydney Test to go ahead. But it creates much bigger logistical issues than what a second Test in Melbourne does,” Weiss said.
“There’s certainly health-and-safety concerns that need to be worked through with a crew of about 100. And with the lack of movement of that crew after a Sydney Test, it creates logistical issues that make it a less preferable option at this stage.
“It means essentially that crew would have to be from Sydney because you can’t bring them in from anywhere else and then fly them out to another Test or the Big Bash.”
Most of the Seven commentary team, including Sydney-based callers such as Simon Katich and Michael Slater, have travelled straight from Adelaide to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test rather than heading home for Christmas in Sydney before the match.
Seven Melbourne managing director and head of sport Lewis Martin said they could accommodate a Sydney Test by calling it largely from a studio in Melbourne if required.
“If the Test is in Sydney, no problem, we’ll work through that. I’m really comfortable we’ve got a number of options to deal with it,” Martin said.
He said viewers would not be impacted but Seven wouldn’t be sending commentators or staff to Sydney if they needed them to travel for the rest of the summer for other matches, including the BBL.
“The strategy now is to maximise your flexibility and a two-week quarantine at the moment limits your flexibility,” Martin said.
The BBL matches set down for Sydney in January are also under a cloud.
CA sports science and sports medicine manager Alex Kountouris said cricket had taken lessons from the football codes in facing challenges with biosecurity and state borders as the summer sport developed its own protocols and contingency plans in the event of an outbreak.
“We’ve learned a lot from the experiences of the NRL and AFL,” Kountouris said. “Indeed, [infectious disease expert] Cassy Workman and [ICC medical advisory committee chairman] Peter Harcourt, who have worked extensively with the NRL and AFL respectively, are both on our advisory panel.
“We have the ability to adapt to whatever the risk level is for any particular city and any particular competition or match.”
After a capacity crowd was permitted to watch the final T20 international between Australia and India at the SCG a fortnight ago, the NSW government had by Monday not yet downgraded the limit on stadium attendance. But cricket officials know that is inevitable.
Asked about crowds, a NSW Health spokesperson said the department would continue “to monitor the evolving situation relating to the recent Avalon cluster”.
Chris Barrett is Chief Sports Reporter of The Sydney Morning Herald.