Australia is all set to become the first country to host international cricket matches in the presence of crowds post the pandemic wave, with New Zealand’s Down Under tour primed to feature crowds at 50% capacity. The tour, starting September 26, will be played at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane.
In what could be seen as the first step towards normalcy coming back to the sport of cricket, Cricket Australia have announced that New Zealand Women’s limited-overs tour of Australia, which will kick off on September 26, will see the return of crowds to international cricket for the first time since March.
All six matches in the tour, which will comprise three ODIs and as many T20Is, will be played at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane and the venue is set to oversee spectators with a 50% capacity cap. What that will effectively mean is that with the stadium having an overall capacity of 2,500 fans, up to 1,250 fans can be expected per game in the groundbreaking series.
It is believed that the ground will be split into six zones, with fans seated in one zone not permitted to cross over to the other, in which the spectators are expected to strictly adhere to social distancing protocols. Fans, according to CA, are also expected to "try to keep shouting, singing, cheering or celebrating to a minimum to avoid transmission". High-fives, autographs and pictures with players have also been banned.
The outcome of the trial in the Australia Women vs New Zealand women series could very well determine whether or not crowds will be present in the all-important Border-Gavaskar series between India and Australia, that is slated to start in December. As things stand, despite Victoria being the worst Covid-19 affected state in Australia, organizers are still hopeful of hosting the Boxing Day Test at the MCG in the presence of crowds, and Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews hinted that ‘a safe number of people’ could be allowed inside the stadium.
“We just have to work out what a safe crowd would be. It is too hard to say now what that number is,” Andrews said in a daily news briefing, reported Sportstar.
“It is too early for us to determine how big any crowd might be. We will get as many people we can get there, provided it is safe.”