India's Test specialists to be in Australia by October end

Support staff to fly out early as well to complete quarantine and start preparations for the series. 
Indian Test team (Photo | PTI)
Indian Test team (Photo | PTI)

CHENNAI: Even as Cricket Australia (CA) remains optimistic that the Boxing Day Test against India later this year will stay in Melbourne, the contingency plan being discussed with BCCI could see changes to the tour itinerary.

Moreover, with a planned camp for the Indian team in Dubai not possible under the circumstances, BCCI is in touch with CA to send the Test specialists and a few others along with the support staff to Australia by October end.

The BCCI will not have any camp for the national players in Dubai or Ahmedabad. Instead, there are plans to send Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari and a few others to Australia with the support staff. They will undergo the customary quarantine period before being joined by rest, who will fly directly to Australia from the UAE.

"If we send them early, they would get adequate time to prepare. Players from teams that don't make it to IPL Qualifiers, will fly directly to Australia as soon as the league stage gets over. Coming home will make things more complicated," a BCCI official told The New Indian Express.

Although CA has already prepared an itinerary featuring three T20Is in October, followed by Tests and ODIs in December-January, it is now prepared to wait till October before arriving at a final decision. CA's interim CEO Nick Hockley said on Saturday they are doing everything they can to keep the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, which is under Stage 4 lockdown.

Unlike other cities, where stadiums have been opened to public for AFL, Melbourne is an exception because of the number of active COVID-19 cases. CA wants the India tour to go ahead, as they are facing a severe financial crunch. Their officials are in touch with BCCI to make the series as safe as possible.

Should the situation remain the same in Australia, apart from Adelaide which is considered a safe venue thanks to accommodation in the stadium premises, Perth and Sydney are being explored as other venues.

Unlike Victoria and New South Wales, the number of COVID-19 cases in South Australia and Western Australia are still only in three figures.

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The New Indian Express