Quarantine issues put Indian tour in jeopardy
Cricket Australia has a crisis meeting with the Queensland government and health officials on Monday in an attempt to work through an impasse over Australian and Indian players quarantining in Brisbane ahead of what is one of the most important tours on the cricket calendar.
Senior sources in the Queensland government said players would be forced to serve a full 14-day quarantine period and would not be allowed to train in that period.
Any positive tests for COVID-19 would result in the entire group serving another quarantine period, one of the sources said.
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Health department sources said there was no chance the cricketers could quarantine in a Brisbane hotel and train at the Allan Border field as planned.
A compromise could be offered at the meeting if cricket can, as the AFL did, find a resort where they can stay and train, but the players have to be "entirely isolated from the general public".
The Queensland government is in no mood to make any special deals ahead of the election on October 31 and there are concerns no agreement will be reached before that date.
India next month is flying families to Dubai, where they will meet up with the bulk of the playing group and Australian stars, including Steve Smith, David Warner, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch, who are competing in the IPL.
From there the 60-odd passengers were due to fly in the same chartered plane to Brisbane to quarantine before the first ODI in Brisbane in late November.
Plans to start the tour in Perth and Adelaide had already been abandoned and it was understood permission to enter Brisbane had been pending for the past three weeks.
"Queensland Heath are pushing back on Cricket Australia,'' the source said.
"They don't think there is a safe way to allow training while in quarantine, and it is very unlikely approval will be given to any of the arrangements proposed.
"Cricket Australia has been arguing that the players have already been in a bubble in the UAE.
"But Queensland Health's view is that the bubble has not been as strict as the ones put together for the footballers in Queensland, and there is a risk to the cricketers. We are likely to insist on the teams going into full quarantine and then they go play the first Test.''
If that is the case, players would have no preparation before the white ball series begins in late November.
Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young, who has led the state's successful COVID-19 response, has been assessing the Cricket Australia plan.
The families of the Indian cricketers will also have to go into full - and separate - quarantine, although they will first have to secure special consideration to leapfrog the existing list of Australians wanting to return home.
"That will be up to the feds, and might be tricky given here are tens of thousands of people on that list and they are coming from a country with a high prevalence of the virus,'' the source said.
Queensland Health will also insist on a two-week quarantine if the teams travel to Melbourne and it is a COVID-19 hotspot at the time of their visit.
The source said it was possible the Indian team would look elsewhere in Australia to quarantine and train ahead of the first Test and there was already talk the white ball part of the tour could be moved to another state.
It is not clear if Virat Kohli's wife Anushka Sharma intended to make the trip, but it could be critical should she do so as has been rumoured. The Bollywood actress - a star in her own right - is pregnant and expecting the couple's first child in January.
When contacted by The Australian on Sunday night, CA's interim CEO Nick Hockley said he was not aware of any issues.
"We have been in constant discussions with Queensland government regarding our detailed proposal to quarantine the Indian and Australian men's squads ahead of the 2020-21 summer of cricket. To date we haven't received notification of any concerns about our plans which were submitted over a month ago," said Hockley.
"We thank the BCCI for their understanding as we work through these complexities and we look forward to hosting a great summer of cricket.
Originally published as Quarantine issues put Indian tour in jeopardy