In a bid to minimise movement during the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday announced the revised schedule and venues for the upcoming five-match T20I series between Australia and Sri Lanka.
The five-match affair, which will be held bweteen February 11 and 20, will now be played across three venues – the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), Manuka Oval, and Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Notably, the second, third, and fourth T20Is have been relocated from Queensland and Adelaide to minimize biosecurity risks by reducing travel across the country.
Confirmring the development, CA CEO Nick Hockley issued a statement and said: “CA will continue to prioritize the health and safety of all players, match officials, staff, fans, broadcasters and the wider community as we navigate the challenges presented by Covid-19.”
“We know that fans in South Australia and Queensland will be disappointed to miss out on these matches and we remain committed to bringing international cricket to all states and territories across the country as safe as possible. We thank Sri Lanka Cricket for working closely with us to make the series possible and look forward to five entertaining matches,” he added.
Significantly, the sudden change in the schedule comes in the wake of the postponement of New Zealand’s white-ball tour of Australia.
Earlier on January 19 (Wednesday), the upcoming New Zealand‘s tour of Australia, which included three ODIs and a T20I, was postponed indefinitely due to quarantine issues. Australia and New Zealand were scheduled to play the three ODIs on January 30 and February 2 and 5 while the T20I was scheduled for February 8.
Notably, New Zealand’s quarantine issues and border controls matters were the key reasons behind the postponement of the white-ball fixtures.
Due to prevalent Omicron wave of Covid-19 infections, the New Zealand government had announced to impose a hard 10-day mandatory quarantine for everyone. The announcement meant that New Zealand Cricket (NZC) could not secure guarantees whether its players would be allowed back into the country.
After the development, reports suggested that CA and the NZC officials have discussed the possibility of rescheduling these matches in Australia.
Commenting on the issue, NZC chief executive David White had said: “As we now know, the advent of Omicron prompted a change of heart from the NZ Government, resulting in a hard 10-day mandatory isolation period being imposed on all incoming travellers. NZC and CA had explored a proposal to expand the tour and to push out the date on which the squad might return to New Zealand in the hope that might be more achievable for the Government.”
“Unfortunately, we received advice this morning that they could not provide certainty over this,” he had concluded.
On the other hand, Hockley had said: “We are extremely disappointed that we won’t be able to play the scheduled matches against New Zealand as planned, however we will continue to work with New Zealand Cricket to reschedule the series.”
“We thank NZC, who made every effort to make the series happen, however because they were unable to get certainty over return quarantine arrangements, it is simply just not possible at this time. We know fans will be disappointed and thank them for their understanding given the unique circumstances that the global pandemic presents for everyone. We look forward to welcoming Sri Lanka to Australia next month and will confirm the schedule for that series as soon as possible,” he had added.
Significantly, it was the third successive year when the white-ball fixtures between the two sides were postponed due to Covid concerns.
After the postponement of the fixtures, there are currently no One-Day Internationals schedule for the Australian team this summer.
Notably, the upcoming series was to make the final visit from retiring New Zealand great Ross Taylor, who had signed off from Test cricket earlier this month.
Revised T20I schedule:
February 11: Australia v Sri Lanka, Sydney Cricket Ground
February 13: Australia v Sri Lanka, Sydney Cricket Ground
February 15: Australia v Sri Lanka, Manuka Oval
February 18: Australia v Sri Lanka, Melbourne Cricket Ground
February 20: Australia v Sri Lanka, Melbourne Cricket Ground