UPDATE 1-Cricket-Melbourne pending, but Sydney always preferred for third test

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SYDNEY, December 24 (Reuters) – The Melbourne Cricket Ground has been put on hold if Australia is unable to play the third test against India in Sydney following a new coronavirus outbreak in New South Wales , Cricket Australia (CA) said Thursday.

The third test site has been the subject of debate after a new community outbreak emerged in the northern Sydney suburbs late last week.

CA interim chief executive Nick Hockley, however, said on Thursday he intended to play the Jan. 7-11 game in Sydney, but would move him to Melbourne if necessary. A decision would be made during the second test at the MCG.

Gabba’s fourth field test in Brisbane from January 15 would then go ahead as planned.

“The record number of tests and the drop in new community transmissions in NSW have given rise to optimism, but if the situation in Sydney deteriorates we have strong contingency plans in place,” he said. Hockley said in a statement.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Sydney rose to 100 on Thursday. Australia’s most populous city has been virtually isolated from the rest of the country with national borders closed or a mandatory 14-day quarantine for arrivals in Sydney. added that CA was working with the Queensland State Government on exemptions to allow players, match officials, broadcasters, media and staff to travel from Sydney to Brisbane after the third test if the border was always closed.

Australian coach Justin Langer, who is preparing his team for their second test at the MCG, admitted it was not an easy decision or process for the board.

“I know there is a lot of work going on. I know it is incredibly complex,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“It’s not just about saying ‘oh, that sounds like a good idea’: there are broadcasters, so many stakeholders that are part of the decision.

“I’m sure (the Board) will make the right decision for the game.”

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