India tour of Australia: SCG begins pitch preparation in case Boxing Day Test is moved out of MCG
The Boxing Day Test is traditionally held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but with Victoria confirming a total of 14,200 cases and more, other venues are emerging as contenders to host the Test if it’s moved out.Updated: Aug 08, 2020 13:26 IST
The Sydney Cricket Ground could be in line to host the iconic Boxing Day Test between India and Australia later this year after the city of Melbourne experienced a steep rise in the number of Covid-19 cases. The Boxing Day Test is traditionally held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but with Victoria confirming a total of 14,200 cases and more, other venues are emerging as contenders to host the Test if it’s moved out.
The four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy, scheduled to start December 3 later this year, kicks off at Brisbane, followed by Test matches at Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Initially, the Optus Stadium in Perth was expected to replace the MCG, before Adelaide emerged as the front-runner. The Adelaide Cricket Ground is still expected to be the first option to serve as a replacement but the SCG is keen as well, and keeping in mind the situation, as on Saturday, the venue started preparing a pitch.
“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,” SCG Trust chairman Tony Shepherd told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Provided that is the case, the SCG will hold back-to-back Test matches as the stadium was already scheduled to stage the fourth and final Test of the series. Although it may take some effort to host consecutive Tests, Shepherd is confident of pulling out all the stops, and given the percentage of Indian population in the city, the prospect of an SCG double-header promises to garner more popularity.
“It would mean they would have to delay our Test if it went for five days through to December 30. We’ll 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,” Shepherd said.
“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. They would love both events, a double-header would be fabulous.”
A day after Christmas, December 26 is celebrated in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth nations, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada as Boxing Day. In Australia, the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) hosts the Boxing Day Test match every year from December 26 to 30 between the Australian side and any side which is on that particular tour. The first Boxing Day Test match took place between Australia and England in 1950.
India has played Boxing Day Test matches in Australia in 1985, 1991, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2014, and 2018. With six months to go, things may or may not improve in time. The participation of fans is also a factor for the Boxing Day Test, which usually sees an attendance up to 95000 on Day of the Test.