No cricket in Melbourne before Xmas

Australia’s domestic cricketers could be facing up to five months in a quarantine hub to get the Sheffield Shield and even the Big Bash seasons away this summer.

Victorian captain Peter Handscomb revealed that’s a looming scenario with the high likelihood there will be no cricket in Melbourne before Christmas.

Handscomb, who is also a state delegate with the Australian Cricketers Association, said uncertainty around the summer scheduled was starting to “play on the players’ minds”.

The Victorian players were this week briefed on potential scenarios, with discussion in play to get them out of Melbourne sooner rather than later to tackle any interstate quarantine requirements.

That time away could extend well in to 2021 too, with the Big Bash not scheduled to finish until next February.

On Thursday national coach Justin Langer said bigger national squads could be required to avoid any quarantine issues, which could hurt domestic numbers.

The status of the iconic Boxing Day Test is also up in the air, with the potential for crowds set to determine whether it is played away from the MCG.

But with no dates yet locked in for the Sheffield Shield, or one-day domestic competition, Handscomb said the only certainty for all domestic cricketers was more uncertainty.

“There’s a lot of government loopholes we (Victorian players) need to jump through to get out and into another state, into a hub. We are trying to offer up a lot of options to hopefully get some cricket before Big Bash,” Handscomb said.

“There have been countless ideas and proposals thrown up and it changes every day. Hubs is definitely on the cards.

“The big issues at the moment are for the Victorians and NSW players in terms of being able to get back home at some stage and see families.

“Potentially, we go into a hub for domestic cricket, we then may go straight in to a Big Bash hub, and then we don’t know what the world looks like after that. That alone could be four to five months not coming home.”

Handscomb, who has been part of discussions between the ACA and Cricket Australia, said he would be “very surprised” if there was any cricket played in Melbourne before Christmas.

That includes the Big Bash, which is scheduled for its earliest start on December 3, and a match at Marvel Stadium on December 10.

Justin Langer warns that domestic cricket may miss big-name players due to the need for larger national squads during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former Test batsman said there was growing frustration at the lack of clarity but conceded everyone in the game had to be agile and adapt to the ever-changing landscape.

“I think the most frustrating thing at the moment is the unknown. We are training towards a date, and you want to peak at the right time, then hold that throughout the season,” Handscomb said.

“But if we just keep training and training, not knowing if there will be games or not. That’s starting to play on the minds a bit.

“We need to see if we can meet in the middle somewhere, to see what’s realistic, what governments are saying, what other teams are saying.

“It’s such an uncertain world, we just have to be as adaptable as possible.”

Handscomb also sat in on the interviews for the final three Victorian coaching candidates, with an announcement expected before the end of August.

Former Test opener Chris Rogers is the front runner, with Brad Hodge also in the frame.

Originally published asNo cricket in Melbourne before Xmas

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