Tournament hubs, Afghanistan Test and Boxing Day: where does the Australia summer stand?

Having hoped that the 2020-21 Australian cricket season would escape the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it now looks likely the summer will be significantly impacted as a second wave hits Melbourne with concerns also hanging over New South Wales leading to extensive border and go back and forth restrictions around the country. A lot remains up in the air with the season less than two months absent, but these are one of the crucial key issues that wish to be resolved.

State cricket

In some ways, this is the biggest headache for Cricket Australia provided the logistical challenges of competitions that are imperative to the game’s ecosystem but do not generate revenue. Especially problematic is how to formulate a Sheffield Shield – the ten-game season and last can’t be cut back without agreement with the Australian Cricketers’ Organization as it’s a part of the MoU – amid go back and forth and border restrictions.

The hub concept is more difficult and much costlier for a first-class competition but a whole range of scenarios remain on the table. A News Corp outline said starting the tournament earlier and rushing through a set of matches ahead of the Test summer was once one idea, to verify players had a chance to prepare or push for selection, while at the other end there is the potential for limited Shield cricket before Christmas with the season then back-filled after the BBL.

The men’s and women’s one-day competitions – the Marsh Cup and WNCL – would appear vulnerable nowadays despite the fact that players have made it lucid they’re open to the idea of hubs. The WNCL is particularly important this year whether the Women’s ODI World Cup goes ahead as played next February and March in New Zealand.

Afghanistan Test

Perth Stadium is currently because of host Afghanistan in late November Cricket Australia/Getty Images

The international fixtures that had been scheduled early in the season have often dropped absent with series against Zimbabwe and West Indies postponed. The T20Is against India scheduled for mid-October also would possibly not take place now the T20 World Cup has been moved and the IPL has its window. The next big question for CA is the one-off Test against Afghanistan slated for Perth on November 21 which they remain dedicated to staging.

On the other hand, the period of time created by the IPL and the need for players to quarantine for two weeks on return to Australia is very tight, particularly for anyone featuring in the closing stages of the competition, unless those in contention for the Test from both sides leave the UAE early to allow 14 days in Perth ahead of the match. Even though that was once imaginable there would wish to be exemptions granted to allow players to train despite the fact that with hotels very near to the grounds this could be feasible.


Brisbane Heat will be defending their WBBL title, but how the season works remains up in the air Getty Images

This would be the first of the marquee competitions to be staged in the season with the tournament because of begin on October 17 but is likely to need some reorganisation. When the fixtures were announced, the competition had already headed towards a hub mannequin with a three-week block of matches in Sydney, and weekend blocks of matches elsewhere, but with New South Wales at a an important stage of trying to limit their Covid-19 numbers – and remarkable restrictions around go back and forth into the state – it could be that Queensland or Western Australia grow to be the major centres with Tasmania also putting their hat in the ring to host a hub.

There remains confidence that the out of the country players will have the ability to take up their deals as deliberate despite the fact that a potential curveball has been thrown by the BCCI’s announcement of the T20 Challenge in early November which came in for strong criticism from quite a lot of players led by Alyssa Healy.


The Big Bash may wish to go into hubs Getty Images

There is a bit more time up Cricket Australia’s sleeve for the Big Bash, but with the tenth edition to be the longest tournament – running from early December to early February – it could be hugely demanding whether Covid-19 restrictions remain. Unlike the WBBL, the initial fixtures featured the full home-and-away mannequin which involves steady go back and forth and, even in the extended tournament, quick turnarounds between matches which would not be imaginable under the current quarantine requirements imposed by the quite a lot of states.

The wish to hub the competition must be regarded as in addition to the flexibility to change mid-tournament whether Covid-19 cases spike in a state. Whether there arises a wish to reschedule or move matches in the BBL, it is going to add another layer of complexity provided it runs similtaneously with the major a part of the men’s international season.

India tour

Virat Kohli and Tim Paine exchange team sheets before the coin toss Getty Images

This remains the an important a part of Australia’s season with A$300 million – the financial health of the game – riding on it taking place. The chances of a traditional Test series across four venues seems to be receding with the Boxing Day Test at the MCG taking a look under threat. To ease the biosecurity protocols that will be needed – and state-by-state requirements to quarantine – it could be that the matches are staged in fewer locations while there is likely to be consideration provided to what size crowds are allowed. Fans have returned to stadiums for winter codes in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales amid quite a lot of restrictions on capacity.

The Adelaide Oval will have its on-site hotel completed by October and has already been talked of as a training hub while Perth, who missed on hosting India in the initial fixture list, may yet be a part of the series. Following the Tests there’s a three-match ODI series pencilled in for mid-January which currently has games in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

The India Women’s team may be because of tour in January for three ODIs which are because of act as a lead-in to the ODI World Cup in February.

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