Cricket Australia has lobbed yet another fixture at Manuka Oval after further adjustments to the Big Bash schedule, which means the venue will finish the summer having hosted a whopping 10 regular season matches.
The Melbourne Renegades and Brisbane Heat will square off in Canberra behind closed doors on Thursday evening, a match that was originally scheduled to be played at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
Restrictions on travel to Victoria from Brisbane forced Cricket Australia's hand, which also moved the January 21 fixture between Brisbane and Adelaide from the MCG to the Adelaide Oval. Matches scheduled to be played in Melbourne not involving the Brisbane Heat are to go ahead as per last week's updated fixture.
It follows on from last week's announcement that three of the eight scheduled BBL games to be held in Sydney this summer had been moved to Manuka Oval. CA's latest update has taken the remaining five games out of Sydney, three of which will shift across to the Adelaide Oval.
That includes the second Sydney derby on January 22, and the Thunder's two clashes with the Adelaide Strikers on January 24-25.
It is understood Cricket ACT were only told on Monday that they would be required to host Thursday's match between the Renegades and Heat.
Given the tight turnaround, and biosecurity protocols which dictate tickets to Big Bash games at Manuka Oval must be purchased more than 24 hours in advance, Cricket Australia made the decision to play Thursday's match behind closed doors.
Manuka will now host a staggering four BBL matches in just six days, starting with Wednesday's Sydney derby. The Sixers and Thunder also host Hobart at the venue on Saturday and Monday nights respectively.
Cricket ACT head groundsman Brad Van Dam and his staff have been working feverishly for the past week to prepare the Manuka Oval centre square which hosted eight games of elite cricket in December - six BBL fixtures and two international earlier in the month.
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Under the original BBL fixture, the Thunder's December 29 win over the Melbourne Stars was due to be Manuka's last Big Bash engagement of the summer.
But Van Dam and his staff prudently maintained the playing wicket in the wake of last month's COVID-19 outbreak on Sydney's northern beaches, which has ultimately forced Cricket Australia to avoid Sydney entirely for this season's Big Bash.
"We understand our many passionate members and fans of both the Sixers and Thunder, will be disappointed by today's news," Big Bash head Alistair Dobson said.
"The movement of the matches has created additional opportunities for fans in other cities to enjoy some of the world's best T20 cricketers."