COVID Impact: Paine Fears Boxing Day Test Against India Could be Moved Out of MCG
File image of Tim Paine©CA Twitter

Australia Test captain Tim Paine fears the Boxing Day Test against India could be moved out of the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground in the wake of rising cases of Coronavirus in Victoria. With the case load rising in Victoria, Cricket Australia (CA) is open to the idea of shifting the Boxing Day Test to Perth, where the situation remains under control.

“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,” the keeper-batsman said in a video message posted on CA website.

“Fingers crossed things are going well enough that we can do that but, as I said, we are spoilt for choice here in Australia with some world-class stadiums. If something had to change, then, again, we have plenty of options.”

If the match is shifted to Perth, the CA plans to hold it at the Optus Stadium, which can sit 60,000 supporters and is regarded as the best venue in Australia outside the MCG.

There were also reports that the match may be held at an empty MCG depending on the situation at that time.

Paine, however, said he is hopeful the Boxing Day Test of the four-match series would remain at its spiritual home.

“Given the current circumstances, I dare say everything is well and truly on the table. We are hopeful that everywhere we play come summer time, we would be able to have crowds,” he said.

“How big they are, we don’t know, obviously. But it’s a difficult one for anyone to answer because there is so much changing week to week, day to day. Give it it three for four months, we just don’t know what it is going to look like.”

The big-ticket series is scheduled to start in Brisbane on December 3.

When India toured Australia in 2018-19, they ended up winning a Test series Down Under for the first time in seven decades. Paine was in charge of the team because then skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner copped one-year bans after their indictment in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

Paine said Australia is better prepared this time. “We certainly struggled a little bit last time. Sometimes you’ve got to give credit. (India) played very well. I’m sure we’ve learned a lot from playing them. We think we’re a better team now than we were then.

Australia will have Smith and Warner back in the line-up this time and the skipper emphasised that they need to score big runs to put India under pressure.

“We feel if we can get some scoreboard pressure on, and score runs we know we need to score to win Test matches, that our bowling attack (won’t) let us down,” he said.