MELBOURNE : Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) have given up on playing other state rivals in Australia's Sheffield Shield before Christmas after being barred from travelling due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Victoria and NSW will instead try to schedule three matches between each other in the country's first class competition, while rivals Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania play off elsewhere, a Cricket Australia website https://www.cricket.com.au/news/nsw-blues-new-south-wales-victoria-sheffield-shield-marsh-one-day-cup-ashes-schedule/2021-10-05 said on Tuesday.
COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria and NSW have cut off the southwestern states from other parts of Australia, where authorities have shut borders and installed travel curbs to reduce the risk of transmission.
Cricket NSW official Michael Klinger said NSW and Victoria had asked other states to let them travel for Shield matches and games in the domestic one-day competition but those applications had "fallen through".
Authorities in NSW and Victoria will start to loosen COVID-19 restrictions in coming weeks as vaccination targets are reached, which may open the border between the two states.
Test players from those two states who are not going to the T20 World Cup include spin bowler Nathan Lyon, batsman Will Pucovski and paceman James Pattinson.
Playing Shield cricket may be their only chance to impress selectors ahead of the Ashes in the home summer.
The Ashes starts on Dec. 8 in Brisbane but the series has been thrown in some doubt by the reluctance of England's cricketers to tour under Australia's COVID-19 restrictions.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)