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‘Double-header would be fabulous’: SCG Trust eyes bid for Boxing Day Test

Uncertainty reigns supreme among cricket authorities as to whether CA’s $300 million summer will follow the schedule released by Jolimont just over two months ago.

Senior cricket sources have indicated hubs are in play, which could see Adelaide and even Perth host multiple Tests. The schedule will be a key agenda item at a rare meeting of the national cricket cabinet next week.

We’d be very happy to host it because it’s a major event and it’s good for Sydney.

SCG Trust chairman Tony Shepherd

The situation has moved rapidly since late May, with the second wave of coronavirus wreaking havoc in Victoria, leaving CA’s plans for the summer in disarray.

There is not an administrator in the country who wants the game moved from a near-full MCG but the possibility of the Test being played before an empty house, or a minimal crowd, is not something anyone in the game would like to see.

South Australian cricket authorities have already indicated a willingness to step in, and now the trust is putting its hand up.

“We’d be very happy to host it because it’s a major event and it’s good for Sydney, and people like coming to Sydney, and we have the capacity to host it if that’s what Cricket Australia want to do,” Shepherd said.

SCG Trust chair Tony Shepherd.

SCG Trust chair Tony Shepherd.Credit:James Brickwood

Shepherd said the SCG would still want to hold its traditional New Year’s Test even if it pried the Christmas fixture away from Melbourne.

This could, however, pose problems for ground staff, who would need more than the allotted three days to get the ground ready for the second leg of the holiday period double-header, Shepherd said.

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“It would mean they would have to delay our Test if it went for five days through to December 30,” Shepherd said.

“We need a six-day period to get the oval ready. For a Test match it has to be perfect, you can’t have second-grade stuff.

“That would be the issue for us – when do we start our own Test? You really do need a good six days’ clear time with a bit of sun in summer to get the oval and pitch ready.

“Our Test we want to retain because it’s special for us. Thousands of our country members come to Sydney for that event and stay. It’s a great tradition for us.”

Shepherd said the large Indian diaspora in Sydney would relish the extra opportunity to see their national team live.

“They would love both events, a double-header would be fabulous,” Shepherd said. “India is one of the truly great cricket teams of the world, it would be a unique experience for all of us.

“I would never go home, I’d be at the cricket for 10 days.”

CA is mulling numerous scheduling scenarios for the summer. With just over six weeks until the domestic season traditionally starts, there is still no fixture for the Marsh Cup and Sheffield Shield. A recent draft distributed to states had the Marsh Cup kicking off on September 19.

Victoria this week suspended state training as it sought clarity as to whether it would be granted exemptions to train. Victorian officials have privately accepted they must enter an interstate hub but are unsure where and when that will be.

CA this week signalled its intention to keep the full 10-game Sheffield Shield season but there is no need to remind anyone involved in cricket of the financial importance of the international season and the Big Bash to the sport’s coffers.

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