CHENNAI: The new restrictions placed by the UK government on Indians because of the recent surge in Covid-19 numbers means Virat Kohli & Co may have to wait until the end of the World Test Championship to step outside bubble life. It is understood that before the team departs to Southampton, in case any one steps out of the bio-bubble, they will have to undergo isolation before taking the flight, for which the BCCI is working on the details.
India are scheduled to face New Zealand in the WTC final starting in Southampton from June 18. Elite athletes travelling to the UK can undergo a 10-day isolation anywhere in the country and train at the same time. However with UK government placing India under the travel red-list, Indian players may not be able to avail the privilege if the situation doesn’t change. Like any UK citizen travelling from India, they will have to undergo 10-day isolation in a government-approved hotel, a period in which they cannot train.
It is understood that the BCCI and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are working out if any relaxations can be made, especially if they fly from one bio-bubble to another, the Rose Bowl in this case, which has a hotel in the stadium premises. For this to happen, those players who will be picked for the WTC final, will have to step into a new bubble immediately after their IPL campaign ends.
The development is the last thing the Indian team wanted as there are concerns about the mental well-being of the players as they have been living in a bio-bubble environment since the 2020 edition of the IPL. Only those who were not picked for the limited-over assignments against England have had the luxury of stepping out.
With the five-match Test series against England starting on August 4, the team managment wants to give a two-week break to the players after the WTC final. However, the current restrictions, rule out the possibility of coming back home. Instead, the players are likely to spend this break time in UK itself where they will be given freedom to make their own plans.
It is understood the BCCI is working out if the players can take their family, who can join them after the WTC final, after serving isolation. “The players deserve a break. It will be too demanding for them to continue the life in a bubble and fatigue can set in quickly. Since there is a six-week gap between the WTC final and England Tests, a window will be given, where they are allowed to travel anywhere with in the UK and assemble later on,” sources in the know told this newspaper.
The players are likely to regroup around July 8 and will enter the bubble after undergoing isolation for the Tests against England.