India request major Aussie summer Test change
The Sydney Test looks set to be pushed back in a move which casts further doubt over father-to-be Virat Kohli's availability to play out the whole series.
India wants their players to be afforded a longer break after Boxing Day and have requested for the traditional New Year's Test to not start until January 7.
Since Kohli and his Bollywood star wife, Anushka Sharma announced six weeks ago that they were expecting their first baby in "January", there has been no word on a more specific due date, or indication about how the Indian skipper might plan to juggle the biggest moment of his personal life with going into battle against Australia.
With a fourth Test to follow in Brisbane, the series won't finish before the 19th or 20th of January, leaving precious few days in the month for baby Kohli to arrive at a time that wouldn't clash with the cricket.
Cricket Australia is desperately hoping to release the Indian schedule this week following a month of tedious red tape delays, as the game braces for what it means when Channel 7 lodges their contract dispute with CA at an independent tribunal on Tuesday.
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Channel 7 insiders say they had informed CA of their intention to go to the tribunal both verbally and in writing. But CA officials still claimed on Monday that they were told nothing about the network's arbitration play.
There a couple of quirks to be confirmed with the summer schedule - including a plan to start the competition-wide Big Bash League hub in Tasmania - but the most curious of all is a four-Test series that doesn't finish until two thirds of the way through January.
Anushka Sharma is reportedly in Dubai with Kohli at the moment for the IPL, but it's unknown whether the couple would consider having the baby in Australia and replicate Candice and David Warner's efforts to have their third child in the UK midway through last year's World Cup.
COVID-19 has compromised air travel, and even though Kohli could probably quite easily return to India or the UAE on a private jet at the drop of a hat, he would struggle to return to Australia and play again in the series due to the two-week quarantine requirements.
It's still yet to be confirmed whether any Indian players can bring their families out with them into the Australian bubble, although there have been reports out of India that their touring party could exceed 50 people.
The Sydney Test usually starts on January 3 or 4, and a January 7 start has not happened since the fateful summer of 2014-15, when the summer dates changed due to the tragic passing of Phillip Hughes and the SCG match was delayed to allow players more rest following a hectic period of back-to-back Tests.
With a minimum of three days off scheduled between all Test matches, the final Gabba Test couldn't start before January 15 - meaning it will run on a collision course with the Australian Open tennis during the day-time hours.
Australian cricket is watching on with interest on Tuesday to see how Cricket Australia responds - if at all - to Channel 7's bid to start tribunal proceedings, in their quest to have an independent expert give their verdict on the new value of the TV rights deal.
Cricket Australia could seek a court injunction to stop Channel 7 lodging at the tribunal, but the governing body has not indicated whether that would be a consideration.
Channel 7 says the assessment given by an independent expert appointed by the tribunal over what the rights are worth would be binding, after the network 15 days ago commenced termination proceedings based on a claim that CA have breached their contract.
Originally published as India request major Aussie summer Test change