Covid restrictions may affect India-Australia schedule

MUMBAI: Different quarantine rules in different states of Australia is what is taking a toll on the schedule for India’s tour Down Under, one that is tentatively expected to begin in the last week of November.
Starting today, it’s already less than a month left for the Indian team to fly if they must play the full series – three T20 Internationals, three one-day internationals and four Test matches – and there’s no word on the schedule yet. The BCCI is clearly beginning to worry now, considering the large-scale logistics at hand.

From booking two chartered flights to figuring out the accommodations, selecting teams, bringing the players and support staff together, holding workshops with the Team India management on the dos & don’ts while in Australia, taking a call on whether they need to fly with a larger contingent than usually necessary and more – these are the talking points for the Indian cricket board, but nothing can be put in place until they hear from Cricket Australia first.
In Australia – Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria – considering Western Australia is shut for anyone travelling from outside the state – have different quarantine procedures. “For instance, if X is travelling from Sydney to Adelaide, a 14-day quarantine is mandatory. And then, when X travels back, a separate quarantine once again is mandatory. Similar rules in place in Victoria and Queensland – although the quarantine window may wary.
So, what to expect when teams travel? Will they be asked to undergo a seven or 14-day quarantine between two Tests or when switching from white ball cricket to red? “These are questions to which answers are unclear yet,” say those tracking developments.
In the ongoing Sheffield Shield in Australia, CA was left with no choice this week but to adjust a fixture for the Round Two clash between Victoria and New South Wales because of Covid-related restrictions and postpone it until after the Big Bash. In other matches, Victoria and Queensland have been given a ‘bye’, with CA opting for more “flexibility” and “security” based on consultations with biosecurity experts.
“The obvious bit is CA is struggling with its premier domestic tournament. That’s because when it comes to the states, their word is final on all matters of security and safety,” say those in the know.
Under the circumstances, speculation is rife on one of the two possibilities: A) The series lets go of at least one format – either the T20Is or the ODIs – to save on time if quarantine restrictions cannot be eased; B) Play all matches at not more than two venues.
Cricket Australia cannot take a call on any of this until there’s a final word from the states. “The federal government in Australia will look at Cricket Australia as one of the 100 companies in the country looking for Covid-related solutions. It’s not like India where you say the word ‘cricket’ and things begin to work like Moses parting the sea,” say industry-trackers.
The last and the more obvious possibility, as reported earlier by TOI, could be of all matches happening between a maximum of two venues.

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