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Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sydney mulls strict Covid restrictions ~ and .. would that imperil the Test match ?

For Indian Cricket fans, the scars of that afternoon (19.12.2020) at Adelaide Oval will remain for ever – 36 All out (technically 36/9 Shami injured hurt).. .. Away from Cricket, one must admire and appreciate the way Australian citizens abide by rules and how laws are imposed stringently.  Sadly, as you walk on the streets of Chennai, with Marina beach too now opened to public – one would find hundreds of people walking but not wearing mask and not keeping social distance.  This is a post on India’s Cricket tour to Australia and some more on Covid front too. 

In one afternoon the foundation of Indian batting line-up was cluttered as they collapsed to an unimaginable low of 36.  Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins destroyed them  with Josh returning a miserly 5 for 8 !  .. .. India would play their 2nd test on Boxing day at Melbourne –in Jan 2021, 3rd Test at Sydney and 4th at Brisbane.

Sydney  is the capital city of the state of New South Wales, and the most populous city in Oceania.  Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west.    Port Jackson, consisting of the waters of Sydney Harbour, Middle Harbour, North Harbour and the Lane Cove and Parramatta Rivers, is the ria or natural harbour of Sydney.    It is the location of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. The location of the first European settlement and colony on the Australian mainland, Port Jackson has continued to play a key role in the history and development of Sydney. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an Australian heritage-listed steel through arch bridge across Sydney Harbour that carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney central business district (CBD) and the North Shore. The view of the bridge, the harbour, and the nearby Sydney Opera House is widely regarded as an iconic image of Sydney, and of Australia itself. The bridge is nicknamed "The Coathanger" because of its arch-based design.

Australia's most populous state has announced new restrictions for the Greater Sydney area in an attempt to contain a growing outbreak of Covid-19. Household gatherings will be capped at 10 people and hospitality venues at 300 until Wednesday. Residents had already been told to stay at home. The cases were found in the city's Northern Beaches area, which entered a five-day lockdown on Saturday. Since then Sydney residents have rushed to leave the city ahead of Christmas. Thousands have travelled from the city in New South Wales (NSW) to the neighbouring state of Victoria. In response, Victoria will close its borders to residents of Greater Sydney and the NSW Central Coast from midnight. People will then face a 14-day quarantine. South Australia state also said all arrivals from the Greater Sydney area would have to quarantine for 14 days from midnight. People who have been in the Northern Beaches area will be barred from the state entirely.

The outbreak has also forced organisers of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race to cancel the event for the first time in its history.  Sydney's Northern Beaches outbreak grew to 68 cases on Sunday, with 30 new cases recorded in the previous 24 hours. The new cluster emerged just days before the Christmas period, prompting concern that travel restrictions may impact festive plans. More than 250,000 residents have been banned from leaving their homes except for work, exercise, essential shopping and compassionate reasons until Wednesday. Those living in other parts of Sydney have been told to avoid the area. The NSW government has urged all locals to wear masks in public areas like supermarkets and churches and to be on "high alert". The next five days has been described as a "tipping point" by epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws. "We can only hope that it remains focused in the Northern Beaches, but if it goes across all of Australian than we will need more tightening."

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New South Wales climbed to 71 this weekend, prompting Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews the shut the border to New South Wales from midnight on Sunday. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian also announced new lockdown restrictions for Greater Sydney as the northern beaches cluster continues to spread.  Whilst reading this cannot help recalling what happened in our street in Apr-May 2020, our street (Venkatrangam Pillai Street, in Triplicane – to be precise one small cluster had more than 90 covid identified persons, all of them turned normal after quarantined)

The third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is scheduled to commence on January 7th. Despite suggestions the five-day fixture should be played at the MCG or Canberra’s Manuka Oval, CA interim chief executive Nick Hockley confirmed the SCG remains the preferred venue.  Cricket Australia is reportedly considering contingency plans should the New Year’s Test in Sydney need to be delayed or cancelled altogether, but has not rushed into making any changes just yet and is hopeful the schedule will remain untouched.  These are because of the fresh COVID-19 outbreak in the northern beaches that  has put NSW on high alert.  CA is hopeful it will still be able to stage the third Test between Australia and India, scheduled to begin on January 7, in Sydney, but is preparing for the fact that may not be possible.

As reported by The Daily Telegraph, if the virus situation worsens, the governing body may need to scrap the Test and return for a second match in Adelaide or hold two Tests in Melbourne or Brisbane.  As the schedule stands, the fourth Test in Brisbane is slated to begin on January 15, but that could be brought forward to give Sydney extra time to get the coronavirus situation under control and allow for the SCG to host what would then be the fourth Test of the series.  CA interim CEO Nick Hockley said no changes had yet been made to the schedule. Queensland looms as a potential option, although Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has already rejected the Indian cricket team. The state earlier relinquished the right to host white ball fixtures between Australia and India after it was not satisfied with the biosecurity protocols around the Indian team.

It was only recently the SCG hosted more than 30,000 fans for the third T20 match between Australia and India. Famous former Australian paceman Brett Lee was  forced to leave the Adelaide Test to head home after Sydney's Northern Beaches COVID-19 outbreak. Lee is a resident of the Northern Beaches and is one of a number of staff members from both broadcasters Fox Sports and Channel 7 who have been sent home after the cluster. According to the Daily Telegraph, Lee has no symptoms of the virus and has not been to any of the notified hot spots.  Another Australian cricket legend - who has a grandstand at the ground named after him - was fulfilling his commentary duties for the ABC on day two of the first Test against India. But as a Sydney Northern Beaches resident, the South Australian government came knocking as the COVID-19 cluster toll continued to mount.  Amidst dramatic scenes Ian Chappell, 77, was asked to leave his beloved ground and isolate before undertaking a COVID test

.. .. .. and that is Australia, the Govt is tough, citizens cooperate without murmur.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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