Sydney and Canberra are firming as the venues for the white-ball matches to commence India’s looming tour of Australia, with an agreement between Cricket Australia and the New South Wales state government possibly only a matter of days away.
Though CA continues to talk with authorities in both Queensland and South Australia about options around India’s tourists arriving for quarantine and training, New South Wales has swiftly taken over as favourites for the start of the tour and its first block of matches prior to the Test series.
The state’s sports minister, Stuart Ayres, has confirmed receipt of a proposal from CA and its considerations by relevant authorities including police and health officials. After several weeks of gridlock between the governing body and Queensland Health, the combination of the New South Wales border to South Australia being opened on September 26, plus the obvious eagerness of the SCG Trust and also the ACT government, where Canberra’s Manuka Oval is located, for international cricket appears to have been the circuit-breaker required.
“Cricket Australia has approached the New South Wales government about quarantining the Indian cricket team and returning Australian cricketers in Sydney,” Ayres said. “That proposal is currently being assessed by NSW authorities including health and police. Fixtures for the Indian tour will be determined by Cricket Australia and won’t impact our assessment of the quarantine proposal.”
Should CA and the state government reach agreement, the revised plan would then be submitted to the BCCI for approval, with fixtures announced and the unveiling of Australia’s extended white-ball squad for the six games – three ODIs and three T20Is – to follow.
Queensland Health’s prevarication alongside the state government, which is facing an election in a matter of days, is understood to have focused on objection to CA’s desire to allow the Indian squad to travel from the Brisbane city centre hotel they had booked in its entirety to training facilities at Allan Border Field. This disagreement had come as a surprise to CA and its government relations team, after initial airing of the plan had not met with any reservations.
By contrast, New South Wales appears more likely to allow the combination of hotel quarantine and supervised training sessions that is the preferred option for the both the Indian touring party and the Australian cricketers also returning home from their stints in the IPL. From there, the two white-ball series would share fixtures between the SCG and Manuka Oval, most likely four fixtures in Sydney and two in Canberra.
CA has already unveiled plans in collaboration with Cricket NSW and the state government to host the WBBL in Sydney in its entirety, and the tournament will require only minor tweaks should the India series begin in the same city. Neither the SCG or Manuka had been set down to play a role in the WBBL, apart from tentative plans to possibly use the SCG for the final in late November.