NYE BBL game proceeds despite COVID-19 cases
The adoption of extreme protocols has saved the New Year's Eve BBL match between the Sydney Thunder and Adelaide Strikers at Adelaide Oval, but COVID-19 cases are threatening to derail another marquee fixture.
Thursday night's clash between Melbourne Stars and Perth Scorchers was postponed because a Stars staffer tested positive for COVID-19. There were fears Friday night's game between the Strikers and Thunder would also be canned after four Thunder players contracted the virus.
But BBL administrators, locked in talks with South Australia's government throughout Friday, got the green light for the match to proceed with strict social-distancing protocols.
The four Thunder players who tested positive are isolating, but the rest of the squad are free to play after returning negative PCR tests.
Further scheduling headaches are on the cards for Cricket Australia (CA), which is also reeling from the news that Test batter Travis Head has the virus. The Stars have revealed seven players and eight staff members now have the virus, casting extreme doubt on whether their upcoming games will take place as scheduled.
Glenn Maxwell's side is slated to face Perth in Melbourne on Sunday then tackle the Melbourne Renegades on Monday, an MCG match that would ordinarily attract one of the biggest crowds of the regular season. But the Stars' contingent with coronavirus has started a seven-day stint in isolation, as per government guidelines.
CA faces the prospect of further fixture rejigs and more cases popping up among players and staff as community transmission continues to grow. The governing body is keen to stage as many BBL games as possible in the school holiday period and ensure that the season wraps up on January 28.
Elsewhere, the Renegades have been forced to omit James Pattinson from their 15-man squad for Saturday's game against Hobart. Pattinson is awaiting the outcome of a PCR test.
The Stars players who tested negative on Thursday will be tested again on Saturday, with general manager Blair Crouch saying the health of safety of the squad and staff was the club's priority.
"We are providing all the support we can to players, staff and their families. I'd like to thank the medical teams at both Cricket Victoria and Cricket Australia for their ongoing guidance," Crouch said.