Sport-starved Melbourne earmarked to host BBL final

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Melbourne is poised to stage this season's Big Bash League final as Cricket Australia aims to give its Twenty20 tournament a fairytale finish in the Australian city hit hardest by the pandemic.

Cricket is coming to the rescue of the sport-starved state after a year in which COVID-19 sent the Victorian capital's beloved AFL grand final to Brisbane and resulted in another iconic event, the Melbourne Cup, being staged without crowds.

Cricket Australia are looking at staging the BBL final in Melbourne.Credit:AAP

The game's governing body last week announced the Boxing Day Test would remain at its spiritual home of the MCG, and wants the BBL to build to a crescendo in Melbourne as the final leg of the league's travelling roadshow.

After a turbulent few months embroiled in an ugly feud with Seven over the BBL, CA will on Thursday belatedly release the revamped schedule for the 10th staging of the event, which is due to start on December 10.

While dates and times have been locked in for the entire tournament, organisers are yet to lock in venues for matches played in the new year due to uncertainty over state borders.

CA is intent on taking the BBL to Perth, whose fans are being denied any international action this season due to the state government's stance on its border. But there is growing hope within Jolimont that WA may open up to certain states, thereby taking quarantine off the table.

A woman wearing a mask walks along a bridge as she walks past the MCG.Credit:AP

The strong likelihood of the BBL final being staged in Melbourne is further good news for Victorian sports fans buoyed by a fifth consecutive day of no further coronavirus cases or deaths.

The MCG, with its greater capacity to host a socially distanced crowd, shapes as the favourite of Melbourne's venues.

CA's plan could be scuppered if all borders open to allow for a traditional home and away season but that is considered unlikely.

Cricket officials hope they can announce the full BBL fixture on November 23 when border restrictions between Victoria and NSW are to be lifted, as announced on Wednesday by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

The BBL is set to launch in Tasmania and Canberra with Queensland and Adelaide in the frame to stage the next phase of games.

The improving coronavirus situation in Australia is raising hope restrictions planned for the international men's hub may be lifted during the summer.

Concerned over the mental and emotional toll time away from their loved ones will have on its players, CA is exploring windows for families to join the hub.

Families may need to spend three to four days at home in isolation before entering the bubble though that depends on the existing coronavirus situation at the time.

Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood are entering another hub in the UAE after their sides bowed out of the Indian Premier League.

The players are in the same hotel and can train together but are separated from their Indian counterparts.

Australian and Indian players, coaches and support staff will fly out next week after the IPL final under the agreement struck between CA and the NSW government.

Selectors are strongly considering resting all-format players Smith, David Warner, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood during the white-ball games against India in order for them to be fresh for what has been dubbed the "world heavyweight championship of Test cricket".

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