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Playing the back-end of the Big Bash League season exclusively in Victoria in a hub-style set-up is being considered in a bid to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on the competition.
The development comes after the Melbourne Stars’ squad being decimated, with the Stars revealing at 10.40pm on Saturday night that a further three players had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number of players affected to 10. But the Stars’ match on Sunday afternoon against Perth will go ahead. No announcement was made on the derby with the Renegades scheduled for Monday.
The Stars will announce their squad for the Scorchers game on Sunday morning.
The Sydney Thunder have also endured four positive tests, although they still managed to defeat the Adelaide Strikers on Friday night.
But with case numbers rising all around the country, there’s a sense of inevitability of more clubs, and players, producing positive tests.
A source with knowledge of the BBL’s rules and planning said that while the radical Victorian proposal would not be a hard lockdown situation, it would not be far off it. All support staff from all eight clubs would go into hotels and live under strict rules.
There have been positive COVID cases in the Melbourne Stars’ camp.Credit:Getty Images
CA’s strong desire to reschedule as few games as possible could also play a major role in the push towards a move to Victoria where the MCG, Marvel Stadium, Junction Oval and Kardinia Park would be used.
Bringing all teams together in the same state would allow CA to get games away quicker so if a team was unavailable to play due to COVID-19 cases, it would then be able to play games successively in a shorter timeframe without having to fly in and out of different states.
Players from other teams might be used to help the shorthanded Stars field a side in their next two matches.
The 12 players who had tested negative on Thursday had PCR tests again on Saturday morning as a precaution, with three more positives cases detected.
The option for top-up players to be brought in from lower levels will almost certainly be denied as CA’s COVID-19 protocols require a five-day integration period for players who are entering the BBL “bubble”.
Sources with knowledge of the BBL’s rules and planning have indicated that the possibility of the Stars using players from rival BBL teams hasn’t been ruled out as they have already been integrated in the biosecure bubble.
Integrity questions for the competition could arise, however, and it remains to be seen how many opposition players would agree to the unique circumstances.
While CA is concerned about a crammed schedule, the Stars would prefer games to be postponed in the event they can’t field teams, even if it means they play their remaining eight games in quick succession.
It would be a scenario that wouldn’t be foreign to some Stars players who participated in practice matches three days in a row leading up to their season opener against the Sixers on December 5.
The only query would surround recovery for the players who tested positive to COVID-19, depending on how badly the virus affected them.
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