Dubai: Nick Hockley, the Cricket Australia boss, has dismissed rumours that India is considering a boycott of the fourth Test in Brisbane over the need to re-enter strict quarantine conditions.
Australian media, citing unnamed sources within India’s touring party, reported the team’s players would refuse to travel to Brisbane if they were to be subjected to a hard lockdown in Queensland state.
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Hockley said the BCCI was “fully across (and) supportive” of quarantine requirements in Queensland. “We speak to our counterparts at the BCCI daily,” he said on Monday. “We’ve had nothing formal from the BCCI to suggest anything other than they’re supportive ... Both teams have wanted to play the schedule as we’ve set out.”
The third Test in the four-match series will start at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday, after Cricket Australia decided not to move the match in the wake of an outbreak of COVID-19 in the city. The series is level at 1-1.
Queensland has closed its border with New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, but agreed to let the players travel to Brisbane for the fourth Test on January 15, as long as they agree to abide by strict biosecurity protocols.
Five Indian players are under investigation by CA and the BCCI for a potential breach of health protocols after video surfaced of them at a Melbourne restaurant.
The team and BCCI have declined to publicly affirm their support for the Brisbane quarantine plan or comment on the investigation, although the BCCI said in a brief statement on Monday that all players and staff had been cleared of COVID-19.
Australia spin bowler Nathan Lyon called on players from both sides to “stop complaining” about touring in the COVID-19 “bubble”.
“There’s a few people from both squads who have been in a bubble for close to six months now but in my eyes it’s a very small sacrifice,” he told reporters on Monday. “Let’s just suck it up and get on with it.”
Meanwhile, a COVID-19 outbreak in New South Wales state has forced organisers to cut the Sydney Cricket Ground capacity to 25 per cent for the third Test in New South Wales state.
Cricket Australia moved to reduce pressure on the third Test by making further reductions to the crowd size. The SCG had already been reduced to 50 per cent capacity because of restrictions in place for the coronavirus pandemic and CA has halved that again — to a crowd of less than 10,000 daily — after consulting with the state government and health authorities.
“Reducing the capacity of the venue is crucial in achieving social distancing requirements,” Hockley said, outlining refunds and a ticket re-sale period. “To date, we have been able to deliver a safe and successful summer of cricket thanks to our detailed biosecurity protocols, the cooperation and support of public health officials and the hard work of so many people behind the scenes.”
The four-test series is level at 1-1 after India rallied from an opening loss in Adelaide to beat Australia by eight wickets in Melbourne last week.