India-Pakistan test at MCG - MCC and Government of Victoria express interest

India-Pakistan test at MCG – MCC and Government of Victoria express interest

The Melbourne Cricket Club, which runs the MCG, and the Victorian Government have asked Cricket Australia informal questions about staging a test match between India and Pakistan in Melbourne after the success of the classic Cup tie T20 World Cup contested between the two teams in October.

Speaking on SEN radio on the fourth day of the second Test between Australia and South Africa, MCC chief executive Stuart Fox revealed that the club, along with the Government of Victoria, had asked CA to organize a neutral test.

India and Pakistan did not play a test match against each other since 2007 and have not played against each other in bilateral international cricket outside the World Cups and Asian Cup since 2013.

But Fox said the MCC would like to welcome both countries to Test cricket after 90,293 fans stuck in the MCG to watch the final T20 World Cup bullet thriller in November.

“Absolutely. Three [Tests] in a row would be adorable at the MCG. You would fill it every time. We asked,” Fox said. “We have taken up this issue with Cricket Australia. I know the [Victoria] the government has too. Again, it’s extremely complicated from what I can understand, with a very busy schedule. So I think that’s probably the biggest challenge.

“Wouldn’t it be great if it wasn’t just Australia and Victoria focused, that we served all countries and filled the stadium all the time. So we asked.

“I hope Cricket Australia will continue to speak with the ICC about this and push for this. When you see some of the stadiums around the world unoccupied, I think it would be much better to have a full house and that atmosphere and to celebrate the game with packed houses.”

A CA spokesperson confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that any decision to play a neutral Test or Test series between India and Pakistan is solely in the hands of the BCCI and the PCB, but said CA would be interested in host a neutral game on a site in Australia if there was ever an agreement between the two councils.

“It would be up to the two countries to come to an agreement,” the spokesperson said. “But if there were to be a test between India and Pakistan in neutral territory, we would of course be interested in the opportunity to host it in Australia. Supporters of both teams here for the World Cup have been amazing and the vast majority of those fans live in Australia.”

Pakistan are set to play the Boxing Day Test against Australia at the MCG in 2023 as part of a three-match series of the next World Test Championship cycle. Fox hoped the MCG could attract the same number of Pakistani fans as those who showed up for the T20 World Cup game against India and the final against England, where more than 80,000 people also attended, the majority of them being Pakistani supporters.

“I’ve never seen anything like it at the MCG, that India-Pakistan game was something else,” Fox said. “The atmosphere, I’ve never felt it like this. The noise after each ball was just phenomenal and families, children and everyone enjoyed it.

“I think if we can be more inclusive and make sure we welcome all cultures, we need to tap into that Pakistani community next year. We want them here and it would be fantastic to have a full day.”

Alex Malcolm is Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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