Guidelines bouncer for India
The on-field contests aside, Cricket Australia and the Indian team management could be engaged in an off-the-field battle after a fresh set of guidelines was issued for the third Test, beginning in Sydney from Thursday.
The latest development comes after a Cricket Australia media release on Saturday claimed that five Indian players, including stand-in vice-captain Rohit Sharma, have been placed in isolation pending investigation into a video posted by a fan on Twitter that showed them dining inside a restaurant in Melbourne on New Year’s Day.
Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and Navdeep Saini are the other cricketers who were reportedly found to be in breach of the protocols.
On Monday, both the squads will fly to Sydney, which reported new transmitted cases of Covid-19 and ramped up social distancing measures on Sunday.
Sources have told The Telegraph that the entire squad was tested for the virus on Sunday, the results of which are expected on
With Sydney emerging as the new hotspot, Cricket Australia’s new guidelines wants the players to be in isolation when not practising or not playing matches, with their movements severely curtailed.
The Indian players and support staff, many of whom have been in some form of quarantine or other for the last six months in the UAE (for IPL) and Sydney, have refused to be subjected to such restrictions if the outcome of the tests are negative.
Cricket Australia’s media release on Saturday mentioned that it was jointly investigating the alleged breach of bio-security protocols though the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has refrained from making a comment.
It is unlikely that the BCCI will impose any sanctions on the players, be it a fine or suspension, ahead of the third Test. All the five players, in fact, will travel with the contingent in the chartered flight to Sydney.
The Indian team’s practice session at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday was cancelled due to rain and the players were forced to train indoors.
“The matter is being blown out of proportion and there has been no breach. All this has surfaced since we won in Melbourne,” the source said. “Don’t forget the Australian media often act as the 12th man during such important series.
“How can you have different types of rules for different people? On one hand, you have crowds coming into the stadium. On the other hand, you want the players and support staff in isolation when not playing.
“We have been travelling from one bio-bubble to another. How does the question of another isolation arise in such a scenario? We have been in this part of the world long enough to be treated like normal Australian people.
“What happens if the ball goes into the stands and lands with someone who is positive? The risk remains. In that case, don’t allow crowds and maintain strict protocols,” the source remarked.
There have already been whispers that the visitors have expressed their reluctance to travel to Brisbane for the fourth Test. It stems from reports that the Queensland government is contemplating another set of strict quarantine measures.
The BCCI, however, hasn’t been contacted so far.