Australia board hopes to push crowd limits for India tour

Australia has for weeks recorded just daily single digit new cases, with an outbreak in southern Victoria state quashed by a four-month lockdown.

Virat Kohli of India walks down the player tunnel after their win as fand beg for an autograph during day five of the Third Test match in the series between Australia and India at Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 30, 2018.   -  Getty Images

Cricket Australia (CA) is hoping crowd limits at stadiums can be relaxed for India's blockbuster tour as COVID-19 restrictions ease across the country.

Australia has for weeks recorded just daily single digit new cases, with an outbreak in southern Victoria state quashed by a four-month lockdown.

Caps on stadium crowds remain, however, which could cost CA tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

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Victoria is limiting crowds at the 100,000-seat Melbourne Cricket Ground to 25,000 per day during the December 26 Boxing Day test, the second of the four-match series against India.

Test venues Adelaide Oval and the Sydney Cricket Ground are limited to about half-capacity, while Brisbane's Gabba is capped at about 70%.

“We're going to give all priority to safety but we'll continue to work with the authorities to see if we can't increase those capacities a bit as we move forward,” CA interim Chief Executive Nick Hockley told Australian radio station SEN on Tuesday.

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CA last month reported a A$46 million deficit ($33.48 million) for the year to June 30, and projected a A$120 million dip in projected revenue for the 2020/21 period due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

India's tour, which kicks off with a one-day international series starting in Sydney on November 27, will provide a vital injection of revenue for CA despite the limited involvement of one of the biggest drawcards in Virat Kohli.

The India skipper will miss the last three tests to return home for the birth of his child.

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“I think when the pregnancy was announced it was always on the cards and we have to respect the fact he wants to be there for the birth of his first child,” said Hockley.

The India players and staff will undertake a 14-day quarantine after arriving in Australia and be confined to a biosecure “bubble” during the tour.

They are expected to land in Australia on Thursday but Hockley said travel arrangements for their families had not been settled.

“We were always talking about a very limited number of families and we're working through it,” said Hockley.

 

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