BBL to shift into Melbourne hub in bid to keep competition running

BBL to shift into Melbourne hub in bid to keep competition running

News

Stars and Heat have been severely impacted by Covid-19

Big Bash League teams will move into a Melbourne hub while still playing home games interstate as part of a plan to combat the Covid-19 outbreaks that have hampered the competition’s schedule.

Under Cricket Australia’s soon-to-be-announced model, all eight BBL teams will begin to take residence in a Melbourne hub over the final stage of the season.

Some matches will be relocated to Victoria, while some teams will be able to host home games in a fly-in, fly-out plan to still play around the country.

It’s understood chartered flights could be used for those matches outside Victoria in a bid to minimise contact with the public and the risk of further infection.

CA has so far had to postpone two matches in the tournament, but are determined to press on with outbreaks in both the Brisbane and Melbourne Stars camps.

Having all teams based in one city will allow organisers to swap the order of games if required, as was done on the Gold Coast this week after positive virus cases at the Brisbane Heat.

“It’s very complex. We are gradually moving the teams into Melbourne,” CA CEO Nick Hockley told SEN. “We saw the other night we had a critical mass of teams in south-east Queensland, and we were able to rejig fixtures to keep going.

“The last 10 days of the group stage of the competition, we will be gradually moving teams into Melbourne. They will still fly in and fly out for games in home markets. But if a team is impacted it gives us much more opportunity to swap teams in.”

Hockley said his belief the competition could continue on was based on the fact the outbreaks were “predominantly” in only two teams.

Heat were set to be missing at least 12 players for their clash with Melbourne Renegades in Geelong on Thursday night, after a major outbreak in their squad.
It comes after their clash with Sydney Sixers has been postponed twice this week, first on Tuesday night and then again on Wednesday.

Melbourne Stars have also had one game postponed, but been forced to play two others with local replacement players filling in.

They should welcome back the bulk of their 12 infected players against Adelaide Strikers on Friday if negative PCR results return in time, but that won’t include Glenn Maxwell who tested positive for Covid-19.

The Sixers and Strikers remain the only teams unaffected, with the Sydney Thunder, Hobart Hurricanes, Renegades and Perth Scorchers having players unavailable at times this season.

However, Hockley insisted the integrity of the competition had not been damaged, with more than 20 regular season matches to be played plus finals.

“While it’s not ideal, it’s great the level of commitment everyone is showing to the competition continuing,” Hockley said. “In every step we have prioritised the health and wellbeing of those involved. We have a clear plan now for the final run in. We are very confident we will be able to complete the competition fully.”

Speaking after last night’s game against Adelaide Strikers, Matthew Wade revealed off-field restrictions have further tightened on BBL players this week.

“Restrictions are certainly tightening up within Cricket Australia,” he said. “They’ve hammered down on restrictions again over the last 24 hours.

“There’s not going to be much to do outside the hotel again. The bigger issue at the moment is that we’ve got Covid within the teams and we’ve been playing each other.

“It’s starting to get tricky, this tournament.. we’ll try to keep the train on the tracks, but if it can’t be done, it can’t be done.”