India, Australia agree on Test series sans bio bubble with flexibility rider | Cricket News

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NEW DELHI: Cricket Australia (CA) and the Indian cricket board (BCCI) have agreed against the need for a bio-secure environment for India’s four-Test tour in December. TOI has learnt that CA assured BCCI the coronavirus was likely to be under control in Australia by year-end, making a traditional series possible at four different venues.

This will be the first marquee event in international cricket in the post-Covid world if CA is unable to stage the T20 World Cup as planned.

The series will start in Brisbane on Dec 3, following which Adelaide will host a day-night Test. The traditional Boxing Day and New Year’s Tests will be staged in Melbourne and Sydney as usual. The Adelaide Test will be India’s first day-night affair in Australia.

The series is likely to fetch $300 million for the Australian board which has suffered heavily due to the pandemic.

CA, which is desperate to hold the series even at the expense of the scheduled ICC T20 World Cup in Oct-Nov, had even suggested hosting all the Test matches at one or two venues to provide a bio-secure environment. But they ran the idea of having multiple venues past BCCI and the Indian board agreed to it.

“We have no problems with the itinerary. If they (CA) are confident of hosting the series in the traditional way then nothing like it. They think they have the situation under control there. But both boards will take regular stock of things. There will be flexibility in the schedule,” BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal told TOI on Wednesday.

Uncertainty still looms over the tour, depending on the spread of the coronavirus and travel restrictions in the respective countries at that time. It is understood that the venues may change to one stadium only if the coronavirus situation worsens in Australia. “Both boards are agreeable on this subject to the prevailing situation. Things can go back to one venue option if things worsen. Else this is on,” a BCCI source said.

Whether spectators will be allowed inside the stadiums will depend on government regulations at that time. The ICC SOPs suggested that if the government allows spectators then the option of limited seating could be entertained to maintain social distancing.

The Australian board has been hit especially hard by the pandemic, with big doubts over the staging of the T20 World Cup in Oct-Nov. If that event is postponed, it can open up a window for the Indian Premier League (IPL) to be staged at that time.

“It’s not that the BCCI is pushing for the T20 World Cup to be postponed. It’s between CA and ICC. If CA can assure ICC that they can host the World Cup, BCCI won’t object. This will be discussed in the ICC meeting on Thursday,” a top BCCI official told TOI.

Australia has seen a sharp dip in the number of Covid-19 cases over the last month. The country has had a total of around 7000 infections so far in three months with just 470 active cases till Wednesday.



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