Cricket Australia chief Nick Hockley believes the 2021-22 Ashes series against England can be played in front of crowds as scheduled, despite coronavirus concerns.
The series is due to start in Brisbane on 8 December before moving to Adelaide, followed by the traditional Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, then Sydney and Perth.
While Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth are largely virus free and fans are allowed into venues, Sydney and Melbourne are both in lockdown battling outbreaks of the Delta variant with case numbers and deaths rising.
Some state borders are also closed, complicating matters.
Hockley told local media that rising vaccination rates in Australia and the prospect of “vaccine passports” gave him optimism that the series could go ahead as planned.
“We’re hopeful that with vaccination rates increasing that we will be able to complete the series as currently scheduled,” he said.
After a glacial roll-out, nationwide vaccination efforts have accelerated in recent weeks with 40% of adults now fully jabbed.
Hockley said the pandemic had taught Cricket Australia it needed to be agile in responding to the unexpected, and contingencies were in place. But he was keen to avoid moving any of the Tests.
“The Ashes is so big, every Test has its own unique character, in the first instance we’ll be doing everything we possibly can to play the schedule as planned and very hopeful and optimistic that we will have crowds,” he said.
“The one thing I’ve learned through this past 18 months is that things can change really, really quickly. We’ve got a range of protocols that fit any given circumstance and we’ll react accordingly. I think it’s too early to tell.”
© Agence France-Presse