'Wouldn't want that on our heads': Test will be healthy for SCG boss insists
A new defense of the third test being staged in Sydney has been launched by SCG supremo Tony Shepherd amid concerns that it might cause a spike in virus cases and a city-wide lockdown, saying "we wouldn't let a crowd in if we thought it was dangerous" on Thursday.
Plans for attendance at the Sydney Test of up to 50 percent of the venue's capacity have caused concern from health experts who are worried that it might further lead to a virus outbreak that has since spread to Victoria, which responded on Thursday by announcing that it will fully close its border with NSW at 11.59 pm Friday.
Although the boundary update is about to have an effect on the Big Bash League schedule, Cricket Australia sold more than 1000 tickets on Wednesday for the third game of the Test series between Australia and India for the regular season to end with a run of games in Sydney and Melbourne from mid-January. Under the new NSW Health constraints, when it starts next Thursday, a regular audience of around 19,000 will attend.
"just opening it up to trouble"just opening it up to trouble"lost all credibility"lost
Shepherd, however, who heads the Venues NSW board that governs the SCG and was a key figure in persuading CA to stage the third test in Sydney, insists "the safety of our fans the players is absolutely paramount"
A day after a crowd of 10,128 attended Wednesday night's A-League derby between Macarthur FC and Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium, he was speaking.
Shepherd said, "It's not like a million people milling around Sydney Harbour on New Year's Eve. It's a totally different environment,"
If we thought it was risky, we wouldn't let a crowd in. Since COVID-19 came on scene, we haven't had a single transmission among fans at a stadium.
We have strict procedures in place, we're testing where people come from, we're getting the QR codes, we're socially distanced, we've got a lot of protection, people can't mix in the stadium, and they've got to stay in their part of the stands. We think we have a very secure stadium, because if we didn't think it wasn't, we wouldn't have opened it. We wouldn't like our heads to have that on.
Shepherd's remarks came as Berejiklian also endorsed the decision to hold the test before a crowd, but in the next week, suggested attendance limits could be changed based on transmission numbers.
"The bottom line is this: we have to find a way to safely move on and return as much as possible to normal but keep protocols in place to protect [people]," said Shepherd.
"Provided that individuals follow the protocols.... Our excellent contact tracing and very, very high level of testing and fast turnaround of testing will work, particularly in NSW. If we all follow the rules, we're going to be safe.'
Former Test fast bowler Glenn McGrath, meanwhile, said the match will be able to go ahead with a crowd with his fingers crossed. The McGrath Foundation's biggest fundraiser, named after his first wife Jane, who died of breast cancer, is held annually on the third day of the SCG Test.
That's where it all began, that's where it's all been. It's always my favorite place in the world,' said McGrath from Mumbai, where he is commenting on the Sony India series.
We were trying to prepare for any result at the end of the day with COVID and the way this past year has been. If it was in Sydney or in Melbourne, we'd put a lot of contingencies in place to try to make sure it was all a success. But Sydney was eventually where we preferred it to be.
"I know they've confirmed it but hopefully cases don't spike again."