Tim Paine: No crowd during India series shouldn't affect anyone

Australian Test skipper Tim Paine is willing to look beyond MCG for the Boxing Day Test this year as long as it means cricket can be played safely.

As things stand, India is due to play a T20I series against Australia in November, a four-match Test series in December-January, followed by ODIs next year.   -  Getty Images

Tim Paine, Australia's Test captain, wants to do all he can to ensure cricket is played during the summer Down Under, even if it means hosting the marquee Boxing Day Test, traditionally held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), against India at another venue.

There has been a spike in coronavirus cases in the state of Victoria. Paine said that given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, he saw "all options being on the table".

"We are hopeful that everywhere we play, come summer time, we'll be able to have crowds. How big though, we don't know obviously. It's a very difficult question to answer because there is so much changing week to week, day to day... that three to four months down the line, we just don't know what it's going to look like.

"Certainly from a player's point of view, we want to be playing in front of big crowds.. At the best venues and a big day like Boxing Day is something that everyone looks forward to and a big part of that is playing at the MCG.

"So, fingers crossed that things go well enough for us to be able to do that but we are spoilt for choice in Australia, we've got some world-class stadiums, so in case something had to change, we've plenty of options."

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Crowd not a factor

As things stand, India is due to play a T20I series against Australia in November, a four-match Test series in December-January, followed by ODIs next year.

Earlier, the Australian federal government had announced that some venues will be able to host up to 10,000 spectators for sporting events from July, raising hopes that crowds would be a certainty at Australian cricket grounds come summer.

However, Paine downplayed the impact the crowd, or lack thereof might have on the on-field action during the Border-Gavaskar series.

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The Boxing Day Test is traditionally held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Will that change to accommodate safety considerations in the post-COVID world?   -  Getty Images

 

"I don't think it (no crowd) should affect anyone. Once you go out there, it very quickly narrows down to what's happening on the pitch. Most players tend to forget the crowd once they're in the heat of the battle. So crowd or no crowd, it'll all boil down to performing and executing your skills better."

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Scoreboard pressure

Paine was also of the view that the outcome of the Test series against India will largely depend on how the Australian batsmen fare against a potent bowling attack.

"We certainly struggled against them last time. That said, they (India) played really well. I'm sure we've learnt a lot from playing against them last summer... we think we are a better team now than we were then.

"Again a lot of the time in that last series, we didn't get enough runs on the board to put them under pressure. So as good as our bowling attack is, you still need to be scoring runs in Test matches to get yourself in a winning position."

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