It’s now less than three months until the dawn of another Ashes Series on Australian soil. For the traditionalists like myself, the T20 World Cup is purely an entrée to the main course – Australia v England across five gripping test matches.
Like everything around the globe, cricket fixtures continue to be hampered by Covid-19, including the cancellation of the final test between England and India. Additionally, New South Wales are facing up to Covid like England batsman did to Mitchell Johnson in the 2013-14 Ashes series.
With uncertainty continuing to reign, test captain Tim Paine floated the idea of the fourth test moving from Sydney to his hometown of Hobart. Paine later claimed on Twitter that his conversation on SEN’s Jack & Painey, which was part of an interview with Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein, was “light-hearted conversation with the Tasmanian Premier”.
Was it though Tim? As a proud Tasmanian and diehard cricket fan, I genuinely believed everything that was put forward. Will there be a crowd at the SCG? Maybe if vaccine numbers rise quickly enough. Is there a sure guarantee there’ll be nearly 20,000 at Blundstone Arena in Hobart? You can’t guarantee anything during Covid times but facts are that there’s been seven total cases in the state since June last year.
For what it’s worth, I, in my very basic understanding of the NSW situation, think they would be able to get a crowd in attendance for the New Year’s test. The big issue is the following travel to Perth for the fifth test. Any Covid worries in NSW and you can guarantee WA Premier Mark McGowan is keeping his state as secure as a Rahul Dravid forward defence. Neither side are going to cop a two-week quarantine period, not that the series can afford that anyway as the fifth test is scheduled to begin less than a week after the conclusion of the fourth.
I’ve already mentioned I’m a traditionalist, and I acknowledge that the SCG is the second most sacred cricket ground in the country. But I’m also Tasmanian, and too often we’re dealt a cruel hand by the top sporting organizations in Australia.
The last test at Bellerive Oval was in 2016 against South Africa, a match I was fortunate enough not to attend. Australia were rolled for 85 and 161 on the way to an innings and 80 run defeat. Yuck! The most notable aspect was the fact it was the sole test for forgotten paceman Joe Mennie.
Not one test match since! Then when one is scheduled, a government comes along and says women can’t play cricket anymore! I fully support whatever the ICC do as a result, but geez it’s piss poor timing for Tassie cricket fans.
An Ashes test would bring Tasmania a rare experience it’s never afforded. In seventy years I can tell my grandchildren I attended the sole Ashes test at Bellerive across 200 years of history. My only live Ashes experience was Day 1 of the 2015 series; a long drive from Lancashire down to Cardiff only to sit amongst a rowdy crowd of English fans as they piled on 343 at nearly four runs an over. If nothing else, I deserve a more memorable Ashes experience than that!
Will the match be relocated? I doubt it. But there’s very genuine reasons for why it should. Given that, Paine should probably clarify whether or not he’s actually going to pursue the idea further, or whether it stopped at that light-hearted conversation. Until then, I guess we’ll get our stack of BBL action for those that care.