Cricket’s power couple will emerge from their bio-security bubble and into the cold of night to help the homeless, but Greg Chappell has been sent back to the place where millions used to watch him — the home couch.
The closing of the Queensland border has stopped Chappell from travelling to Sydney to attend his own foundation’s annual sports stars sleep out at the SCG this Monday, which raises money for youth homelessness.
Australian cricket stars Alyssa Healy and Mitchell Starc have been given the green light to attend despite the fact they’re both currently training under strict bio-security measures.
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Starc is set to leave for England on an Australian white ball tour on around the 21st of August, but for now is still allowed to operate as a normal private citizen outside of the measures put in place by Cricket NSW around training.
Healy and Starc have been told to take care observing social distancing while mixing with former athletes like Benny Elias, Stuart MacGill, Louise Sauvage and Andrew Mehrtens in the chilly air under the stars at the SCG, however, the Foundation has put restrictions on how many people are attending.
“It’s an interesting one. We’ve got restrictions here on our training here at Cricket NSW, and while they’re in place, it’s not necessarily stopping us from getting out and about,” Healy told The Saturday Telegraph.
“The Chappell Foundation have done a lot of work in making sure that the event is really safe, especially for a lot of the athletes that are going to be attending.
“Making sure they can go back into the environments and keep training.
“Honestly I think people are going to be sensible enough to make sure they’re doing everything right. Ultimately we don’t want to jeopardise the training programs we’re part of.
“It’s a really nice night to share together and obviously raise some funds and awareness about youth homelessness in Australia which I think is something not many people are aware of.”
The fact Test legend Chappell has been forced to call in via video link from the couch in Brisbane is seen as symbolic given youth homelessness often starts with couch hopping.
Donations can be made to the Sleep out at sportsstarssleepout.com.
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Queensland might be putting down the shutters to Sydney, but one truck has managed to make it across the border smuggling some secret cargo.
Soil from the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground wicket has been transported to Brisbane in a bid to try and boost the adaptability of Australian cricketers to different conditions and address the dearth in spin options around the country after Nathan Lyon.
The National Cricket Centre in Brisbane has expanded to a second location in Kalinga where Cricket Australia staff have carefully prepared wickets which replicate conditions at the SCG and Adelaide Oval.
The chance to bowl on a little slice of Sydney’s turning deck on a regular basis is a major boost for spinners like Aussie prospect Mitchell Swepson, who have increasingly been sidelined by flat drop-in pitches around the country.
Cricket Australia’s drastic cost-cutting measures sparked fears that the country’s high performance centre could turn into a white elephant, but the new replica wickets signal a commitment to still make the NCC a centrepiece for national teams and aspiring stars to fly into to train.
Test opener Joe Burns is relishing the opportunity to be exposed to Sydney and Adelaide batting conditions in his own backyard in Brisbane.
“We’re really lucky in Brisbane to have world class facilities with the NCC and basically be leading world cricket in training facilities and then it just goes a step further now that we’ve got this second training precinct to go to and we’ve got wickets from around the country,” said Burns.
“Not only for guys in Brisbane to train but for Australian players and state players around the country. They can come up to Brisbane and they can get ready for cricket all around Australia from one central training hub.
“It’s going to keep promoting guys as to how to adapt their games to different conditions and for guys learning first class cricket, to understand that conditions change throughout the country. I think that can only be a good thing for when we actually go overseas as well.”
Not only has soil been trucked in from Sydney and Adelaide, but intelligence on the specific curating techniques used at those venues has also been passed on to ground staff in Brisbane.
They complement the subcontinental replica wickets the NCC already has.
Queensland spinner Swepson has been on the cusp of Australian Test selection for several years, and the arrival of the new wickets are timely as he looks to cement his position as Nathan Lyon’s understudy.
“A chance to actually train in those conditions will only lead him in good stead for when we do go to Sydney to play those games for Queensland and Australian matches as well,” said Burns.
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Cricket Australia high performance boss Drew Ginn said his predecessor Pat Howard as well as former national selector Greg Chappell had played a key role in making the bold plan a reality, along with current executives Belinda Clark and Scott Lardner.
“We‘re excited to be under way with this project, which has been years in the making,“ Ginn said.
“Importing different soil types from around the states will provide players at the NCC with the opportunity to train in conditions similar to those they would experience at major grounds around Australia.
“The new wicket square will give players invaluable exposure to different pitch types and allow them to improve their skills while at the NCC.”