26 Oct

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews is "very confident" that there will be a crowd for the Boxing Day Test against India following the announcement that Melbourne will come out of its Covid-19 lockdown which has lasted four months.

The schedule for India's visit is yet to be rubberstamped as it awaits final BCCI approval following last week's sign-off from the New South Wales government that the India squad, and the Australia players returning from the IPL in the UAE, could quarantine and train in the state.

Cricket Australia (CA) has kept Melbourne in its plans for the traditional fixture throughout, although Adelaide Oval has been put on standby to host the Boxing Day Test with the ability to host crowds a deciding factor.

"I am very confident that we will get a crowd at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test," Andrews told reporters. "I don't know how big it will be, but there will be a crowd. That's the advice that I have, that's what we're working towards."

Crowds have returned to sport in Australia over the last three months with 30,000 at the AFL final at the Gabba on Saturday followed by 40,000 at the NRL final in Sydney on Sunday.

The cricket season has begun with small crowds admitted to the Australia-New Zealand women's series at Allan Border Field in Brisbane and a selection of the Sheffield Shield and WBBL matches.

Travel between various states is still restricted by border closures although Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last week that he hoped all borders, except for Western Australia's, would be open by Christmas.

The India tour is set to start with ODIs and T20Is from November 27 which will be played in Sydney and Canberra. The four-match Test series will then take place in Adelaide for a day-night match, followed by Melbourne, Sydney and then Brisbane in mid-January.

On Monday, the BCCI president Sourav Ganguly indicated the board's approval for the trip was close with just a few final issues being ironed out.

John Stephenson


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