Cricket Australia is rushing to move players from around the country to New South Wales in a bid to stop South Australia’s Covid-19 outbreak scuppering its summer plans.
Big Bash League side the Adelaide Strikers were expected to fly out of their home city on Tuesday bound for a pre-season camp in Coffs Harbour, after the South Australian Cricket Association cancelled all games under its umbrella for the next fortnight.
CA was also scrambling to rejig travel arrangements and obtain exemptions for South Australian, Western Australian, Tasmanian and Queensland players involved in the one-day international series against India, starting on 27 November and to be split between Sydney and Canberra, and December’s Australia A warm-up matches in Sydney.
While the governing body says Adelaide’s pink-ball Test will not be shifted away from the city until it has no other choice, it is working quickly navigate the logistical maze of state-specific border controls and pre-empt any potential closures to ensure the start of the international season is not put in jeopardy.
Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland have imposed more prohibitive restrictions on travellers from South Australia, where the opening rounds of the Sheffield Shield were played inside a biosecure bubble. Cameron Green and Matthew Wade are coming the ODI players self isolating in Western Australia and Tasmania respectively, as per their state’s rules regarding anybody who has recently travelled from Adelaide.
Test captain Tim Paine, who is in the Australia A squad, is also self-isolating in Tasmania. NSW, Victoria and the ACT all have open borders with SA. NSW is set to reopen its border with Victoria on 23 November.
Adelaide Strikers players and staff in South Australia are expected to fly out on Tuesday, assembling for a pre-season camp in Coffs Harbour. The Strikers are slated to start their BBL campaign in Hobart on 13 December. Current border restrictions would have forced the squad to spend a fortnight quarantining in Tasmania if travelling directly from Adelaide to the BBL hub.
The SACA cancelled all games and training sessions for grade, community and school teams during the next fortnight.
At this stage there is no suggestion Adelaide’s pink-ball Test could be shifted away from the city but that could easily change if cases spike in the state. The players are due to gather on 10 December ahead of the Test starting on 17 December.
“Our biosecurity and operational teams are closely monitoring the situation and working to put in place the necessary plans to ensure players, coaches and staff are available for upcoming fixtures,” a CA statement said.
“CA has always maintained that it would need to be agile as border conditions change and we thank the players, coaches and staff involved for their flexibility and all parties for their support. We will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves and look forward to hosting a safe and successful summer across all formats.”
The Sydney Cricket Ground has offered to help as a back-up opening Test venue but does not expect the need to arise. “It’s highly unlikely,” SCG chairman Tony Shepherd said. “South Australia has excellent testing and contact tracing. If the worst was to happen we are here to help cricket.”
The Indian squad and Australian players returned from the Indian Premier League and will not finish until the day before the series starts.