Gabba to open at 50% capacity for India Test

Cricket Australia has confirmed that the fourth and final Test match against India at The Gabba in Brisbane will go ahead with a 50% capacity, while it has been announced that more than 150,000 virtual seats were sold for the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, raising Aus$3m (£1.7m/€1.9m/$2.3m) for the McGrath Foundation.

Cricket Australia is working with Stadiums Queensland to ensure the safety of fans at the Brisbane Test, which gets underway on January 15. The maximum stadium capacity has been set at 50%, which would mean around 20,000 fans would be able to attend each day.

The match will be re-ticketed and current ticket holders will receive a full refund, including all associated costs such as ticket insurance. Current ticket holders will be given an exclusive window to repurchase tickets via Ticketek on Wednesday and Thursday, with all remaining tickets to be released thereafter.

There had been doubts over whether the Test would go ahead in Brisbane amid concerns voiced by India relating to quarantine protocols. Cricket Australia confirmed earlier today (Monday) that the match would be held as planned.

Nick Hockley, interim chief executive of Cricket Australia, said: “We have been working closely with Queensland Health to ensure our strong biosecurity plans guarantee the fourth Test at The Gabba is played safely.

“Throughout the season, we have developed a strong track record for a safe and responsible return to sport thanks to our well-established biosecurity protocols, the ongoing support from public health officials and the incredible hard work of so many people across Australian cricket.

“I want to thank the Queensland Government for their cooperation and willingness to working closely with CA and the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) so we can deliver the fourth Test as planned, but more importantly delivering on a plan that places the safety and wellbeing of the players, match officials and the wider community as a top priority.”

The third Test at the SCG concluded today and ended in a tie, leaving the series level heading into the final Test at The Gabba.

The SCG operated at 25% capacity for the Test, in line with COVID-19 protocols. Ahead of the match, the McGrath Foundation, an Australia-based breast cancer support charity, launched a campaign to raise Aus$1m by selling virtual tickets to fans, and the target has been surpassed.

The Vodafone Pink Test set the record for the biggest virtual sporting stadium in Australia, with more than 150,000 virtual seats sold and Aus$3m raised to help fund McGrath breast care nurses. The foundation beat the record for the largest ever crowd at the SCG, filling the equivalent of the biggest stadium Australia has ever seen.

Glenn McGrath, co-founder and president of the McGrath Foundation, said: “To say we’re blown away is an understatement. In the 13 years of the Pink Test, we have seen how Australia has gone into bat for the McGrath Foundation, but we never imagined we would be here today having raised over Aus$3m.

“This past year has been tough for everyone, but even in these challenging times, the generosity of Australians and the broader cricketing community is just incredible. We remain so humbled by the response and we want to express our sincere thanks to everyone who bought a virtual Pink Seat to help keep the ‘pink’ in the Sydney Pink Test.

“Your support means we will be able to fund 22 McGrath breast care nurses for a year, who will support 2,200 families going through breast cancer.”

Image: Rae Allen/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size