With the Indian Premier League (IPL 2021) now suspended and most of the players having got back home, the focus of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will now shift to the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) and the tour of England that follows. The key issue is with regard to logistics and working around the various travel restrictions and quarantine protocols amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IPL had to be suspended due to the virus breaching the teams’ bio-bubbles and hence, there is still a lot of concern over holding matches. But with the WTC final scheduled in Southampton where the number of cases are low, all that matters is getting the whole Indian contingent there safely. The tour will then go on for more than two months and hence, there shouldn’t be too many concerns about the virus once they are there.
BCCI sources speak on the travel plan
According to BCCI sources who spoke to TOI, the BCCI are planning to have one week of hard quarantine in India for players so that a bubble can be created in India before the travel to UK. “The idea is to get the players to quarantine in India itself. The team anyway is likely to travel in charter flight since there are travel restrictions in UK,” the source said.
“There are a lot of players who have been in bubbles and quarantines for eight-nine months now. It is likely to take a toll on them mentally. They are fine with getting into a bubble early in India and then the BCCI may offer a bubble-to-bubble movement scenario. But the negotiation will be tougher this time since the team will be leaving from India unlike from Dubai when they toured Australia,” the source added.
Speaking of the long duration of staying in bio-bubbles for the players, “This will also give them some more time with their families. And mind you, there is a long season coming till the T20 World Cup in November. If the IPL happens in the window between the Test series in England and the T20 World Cup, it’s going to be a very long time in a bubble for the Indian players,” the source said.
Further, the Indian players have reportedly been asked to take the first shot of the Covishield vaccine. Since there is no time to take the second shot, it is expected that the same would be taken in the UK. “It is advised that they take Covishield in India because it is based on the AstraZeneca vaccine, a UK product. They may get the second shot in UK. Getting a different vaccine here is of no use,” said the source.
The WTC final is scheduled to be held from June 18 to 22 in Southampton.