India tour of Australia: With COVID-19 cast doubts on 1st Test, Hazlewood demands change of venue; Check out what he said

With COVID-19 fear still looming large in Adelaide, Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood on Wednesday demanded that the first Test should be shifted to Gabba, if not in Adelaide. India will play Australia in Test series opener at Adelaide Oval on December 17, however, the rise in COVID-19 cases has cast doubts on it.

The 29-year-old said if they were to play at the Gabba, the fast bowlers would rather get the game out of the way before it became hotter and favoured the batsmen.

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“It probably would be (the Gabba) to be fair,” Hazlewood told reporters. “I think the longer we wait the hotter it gets up there so the quicks would all be happy to get that game done in early December. We obviously have a really good record (in Brisbane) and it’s a great place to start.”

Australia have not lost a test match at the Gabba since 1988.

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Virat Kohli’s only Test this summer.

The governing body is continuing to monitor the situation in South Australia closely and proved on Tuesday, when it executed a mass airlift of players around the country to stay ahead of state government border restrictions.

Every Adelaide-based KFC BBL player and the family of Alex Carey, the South Australian currently in quarantine with the Australia squad’s returned IPL contingent, fled the city. And Australia’s white-ball squad members from Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania made an early arrival in Sydney after they had been part of the Marsh Sheffield Shield hub in Adelaide.

“The longer we wait the hotter it gets up there, so the quicks would all be happy to get that game done in December,” Hazlewood said today.

“We obviously have a really good record up there and it’s a great place to start.”

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The MCG and SCG are two other feasible alternate venues, given Australia and India’s squads will already be in Sydney and the second Test is being staged in Melbourne.

Hazlewood suggested the team would have no problems adapting if there was a late shift in venue, or if there were no crowds in Adelaide. But the 29-year-old feels the pink ball should not be used anywhere other than Adelaide Oval during the series.

“He (curator Damian Hough) has got the wicket perfect at Adelaide for a pink-ball Test,” Hazlewood said.

“A few grounds around Australia are too abrasive or too hard, such as the Gabba or Perth. Those wickets are too hard for a pink ball, it goes quite soft after a certain amount of time.

“Could be red ball (first Test in) Melbourne or Brisbane or somewhere, then we head back to Adelaide later on in the summer.

“From all reports we’re still good for Adelaide but it can always change .. . hopefully they can get on top of it in the next week or two.”

National coach Justin Langer admitted there were some “pretty scrambled brains” trying to work through various contingency plans.

“Wherever it’s played, it’ll be a great contest,” Langer said at the launch of his new book in Perth.

India, who refused to play a day-night Test during their previous tour of Australia but have since embraced the innovation, playing one day-night match against Bangladesh where Virat Kohli scored a century, must sign off on any schedule changes.

Kohli’s team are slated to play a pink-ball game against Australia A at the SCG on December 11-13, their final tune-up for the series opener.

Hazlewood argued that changing the ground for the first Test would not affect Australia, noting that players have become accustomed to uncertainty and empty stands this year.

“We’re adapting pretty quickly to whatever is being thrown in front of us,” he added.