Restrictions: What to expect at the Gabba today

 

It's a Test that's ­had its build-up hampered by crowd restrictions, health concerns and potential boycotts, but the Gabba is ready to rumble today as Australia and India face off in the final match of a tense series locked at 1-1.

The do-or-die five-day ­decider between India and Australia will today kick off under heavy health ­restrictions at the Gabba, with crowds cut to half ­capacity and even commentary teams not allowed into the hallowed ground.

And the 18,000 fans attending the opening day today have also been told to wear face masks when entering, exiting and moving about the grounds (including the purchase of food and drink) and to abide by special­ ­allocated "checkerboard" seating in the stands to ­ensure sufficient crowd social distancing. Even broadcasters Fox Cricket and Channel 7 will be forced to call the match out of their Sydney and Melbourne offices due to larger border closures, with Fox calling up Test legend Allan Border and Seven hiring Matthew Hayden and Holly Ferling to be on-the-ground eyes and ears in Brisbane.

Crowds at Brisbane’s Gabba will be cut in half as Australia take on India.
Crowds at Brisbane’s Gabba will be cut in half as Australia take on India.

Fox will use its Sydney and Melbourne-based talent to call the game - with the likes of Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist to be beamed in from different locations, as well as Harsha Bhogle, who is back in Mumbai.

The larger instatement of restrictions came only days after reports that the match would be run at full capacity, but was scrapped down to half that following Brisbane's Hotel Grand Chancellor outbreak and lock­down this week.

The special precautions are based similarly to those that were put in place for the Melbourne and Sydney Tests, which saw heavily reduced crowds and mandatory masks deployed to stop similar outbreaks.

Despite the arrival of new restrictions and both the first two days at the Gabba being sold out, Queensland Cricket chief executive Terry Svenson said that there were still ample opportunities for fans to enjoy the match.

"We encourage fans to ­observe the recent protocols outlined by Queensland Health, wear a face mask and get along to the Gabba," Mr Svenson said.

Gaurav Kaulgud, Rajul Sharma and Amrish Bafana from the Fans India group. Picture: Steve Pohlner
Gaurav Kaulgud, Rajul Sharma and Amrish Bafana from the Fans India group. Picture: Steve Pohlner

Among those is Rajul Sharma from Adelaide who is the founder of the support group Fans India.

He will have to spend a fortnight in self-isolation when he gets home.

But for him attending the blockbuster finale was a no brainer.

"The Sydney Test was the first game (between Australia and India) that I had watched from home in 10 years," Mr Sharma said.

He is over the moon the Brisbane test will go ahead.

"It's amazing because before every test match there was a doubt, just a few days before this test match there was a doubt about Brisbane."

"But we are here to make the team feel comfortable and we are eagerly awaiting for team India to change the record again."

Originally published as Restrictions: What to expect at the Gabba today


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