Just days ahead of the first Brisbane test at Gabba, Team India has encountered another problem, adding to its increasing woes down under. The emergence of the UK strain of Covid-19 in Brisbane has elicited fresh concerns from BCCI officials. Apart from the obvious medical implications that the emergence of the new strain would possess for the team, there is also the worry of the availability of players for the next series.
India is set to host England at home and the new strain could bring forth quite a few complications. BCCI has highlighted the issues with Cricket Australia and are working towards a solution.
India Fears Travelling To Brisbane for Gabba Test
Given the current health protocols, flights between India and Australia are still not restricted. However, this could all change with the discovery of the new strain at Brisbane. Currently, all flights between the UK and India are subject to an ample number of restrictions. Everyone travelling from the UK has to undergo a mandatory one week quarantine at an institution; even if the test is negative on arrival. This is to be followed by a further one week quarantine at home. Now, given the way the rules currently stand the Indian team might land in a spot with the current schedule.
The Indian team is set to leave Australia after the conclusion of the Border-Gavaskar series on January 19th. The home series with England however, is all set to kick off from 5th February. Even conservative estimates would show for a mismatch of dates with an inadequate number of days for quarantine.
Adding to the problems is the strict way the Queensland government has decided to deal with the covid-19 pandemic. In keeping with the changing circumstances; the government has decided to put in place an absolute lockdown for three days in Brisbane. This could mean that the Indian team upon reaching Brisbane would be put under local government restrictions which could ideally hamper their performance on the match.
As per the existing rules of the agreement between Cricket Australia and BCCI; the players can move about within specified areas of the hotel and would not be allowed to venture out at all, save for the test match and practice.
This request for a change of venue due to such problems had been conveyed to Cricket Australia by the BCCI. However, Cricket Australia has pointed out to the difficulties of such a request since most of the other stadiums fit for test matches have been booked by the Big Bash League. Apart from that, the exemptions required by the Indian team to travel to any other location besides the already designated Queensland would be virtually impossible given the emerging circumstances.
In this regard, the Indian team management has suggested an alternative i.e. to stay on at Sydney. However, at the time of writing of this article, no such efforts or requests have been made to ensure that a second pitch be prepared for the test match should the plans to play at Brisbane for Gabba Test fall through.
Cricket Australia Chairman & Bcci – Urgent Talks
Given the urgency of the situation, Cricket Australia Chairman Earl Eddings is now locked in a series of conversations with BCCI supremo Sourav Ganguly. Ganguly who was recently admitted to a hospital after suffering a heart attack; has taken charge of the matter and has reportedly been in the thick of things.
There has been a lot of talk regarding the reason for India’s reluctance to fly to Brisbane; not all of them very positive. Commenting on the matter, Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said,
“My rules are the standard rules I’ve used for sporting teams right from the start and they’ve worked very successfully for us […] So that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
Among other things, the fact that India has never won a test match at Brisbane in 33 years. He has also been brought up with former England skipper Michael Vaughan questioning whether it was Covid-19 or the pitch that India was concerned about. However, India’s reluctance found support with Ian Chappell who after undergoing a 14-day quarantine in Sydney highlighted the difficulty of being locked indoors.
Gabba Test – Final Decision
The concerned authorities are yet to come to a decision regarding whether the Gabba Test would be played at Brisbane. For his part Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane has not ruled out returning back home altogether. At the end of the day, such decisions have to discuss between the BCCI and Cricket Australia. Hopefully, the two authorities can come to an amicable decision to deal with this crisis