SYDNEY: The schedule for Australia’s series against India was under threat again on Sunday after reports that the tourists were unhappy at the prospect of re-entering strict quarantine for the fourth Test in Brisbane.
The third Test in the four-match series is slated to start at Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday after Cricket Australia decided not to move the match in the wake of an outbreak of Covid-19 cases in the city’s northern beaches.
On Monday, both squads will fly to New South Wales, which reported eight new locally transmitted cases of the virus and ramped up social-distancing measures on Sunday.
Queensland state has closed its border with New South Wales and although agreement has been reached to allow the players to fly to Brisbane for the fourth Test on January 15, there is uncertainty as to what level of restrictions they will face after having been in Sydney.
Reports in the Australian media, citing sources within the touring party, said India’s players, many of whom have been in some form of quarantine or other for six months, would refuse to travel if they were going to be subjected to a hard lockdown.
A spokesman for the India team did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reports.
“If you look at it, we were quarantining for 14 days in Dubai before landing in Sydney and doing so for another 14 days. That means we were in a hard bubble for nearly a month before coming out. What we don’t want now is to quarantine again at the end of the tour,” Fox Sports quoted a source inside the Indian team as telling Cricbuzz.
“We aren’t keen on going to Brisbane if it means being stuck in the hotel again, except for going to the ground. Instead, we don’t mind being in some other city, playing both Test matches there to complete the series and returning home. All we’re saying is the boys have been in various states of lockdowns and bubbles for nearly six months now. And it’s not been easy for anyone,” the source added.
India’s players underwent 14 days of strict quarantine after their arrival in Australia but have since enjoyed more freedom while preparing for and playing matches in Adelaide, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.
There are still some restrictions, however, and five Indian players were placed in isolation on Saturday after a video surfaced showing them eating inside a Melbourne restaurant on New Year’s Day.
The Australian and Indian cricket boards are investigating the alleged breach of biosecurity protocols with precedent suggesting the players might be fined for their actions.
The response of Ros Bates, Queensland’s Shadow Minister for Health, has further put the fourth Test at risk.
Bates took to Twitter to post a video and wrote: “Today I was asked about reports the Indian Cricket Team wants quarantine restrictions eased just for them, ahead of the upcoming Gabba Test. My response #Cricket #IndiavsAustralia @ICC @CricketAus.”
In the video, she can be heard saying “if the Indians don’t want to play by the rules, don’t come.”
Today I was asked about reports the Indian Cricket Team wants quarantine restrictions eased just for them, ahead of… https://t.co/xpbh8plMWv
— Ros Bates MP (@Ros_Bates_MP) 1609644526000
Also, Queensland’s Shadow Minister for Sports, Tim Mander, said that “same rules must apply for everyone”, adding that the Indian team should not come if they do not want to abide by the rules.
“If the Indian cricket team wants to spit the dummy and disregard quarantine guidelines in Brisbane for the fourth Test, then they shouldn’t come. The same rules must apply for everyone. Simple,” Fox Sports quoted Mander as saying.
Sydney, which at one stage looked like losing the third Test to Melbourne, would be the most likely beneficiary if it was decided to move the fourth match from Brisbane.
The acting Premier of New South Wales state, John Barilaro, told reporters on Sunday that the government was focusing on staging the third Test safely in front of a crowd of up to 20,000 fans.
“We’re going to commit to the Test we have,” said Barilaro. “If an opportunity arises post that, we’ll take that opportunity then.”
Batsman Matthew Wade said the Australian players had been told the protocols would be stricter in Brisbane but rejected the idea that there was now uncertainty over the schedule.
“There’s a lot of talk out there but for us as a group and me position personally, we’ll go Sydney and play the SCG and then we’ll go the Brisbane and play the Gabba,” he told reporters.
“Until the powers that be knock on the door and tell us that that’s going to change, we just roll onto the next game…”
(With ANI Inputs)