Twelve of the 21 players - including captain Aaron Finch (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and vice-captain Pat Cummins (Kolkata Knight Riders) - who have been named in Australia's squad for the three T20Is and three ODIs in England, are set to miss the start of IPL 2020 because of the IPL's Covid-19 testing protocols.
But Andrew McDonald, Australia's senior assistant coach, will not join the touring party to England as he has been allowed by Cricket Australia to head to the UAE to link up with Rajasthan Royals, where he is the head coach.
Apart from Finch and Cummins, David Warner (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Steven Smith (Royals), Glenn Maxwell (Kings XI Punjab), Mitchell Marsh (Sunrisers), Josh Phillipe and Kane Richardson (Royal Challengers), Alex Carey and Marcus Stoinis (both Delhi Capitals), Josh Hazlewood (Chennai Super Kings) and Andrew Tye (Royals), are among those in the England tour group with IPL contracts.
Australia's limited-overs tour of England kicks off on September 4 and will end on September 16, three days before the start of the IPL in the UAE.
According to the IPL's SOPs, once the squads land in the UAE, all members will undergo a test at the airport before heading to the team hotels. From this point, the IPL testing protocol kicks in: every squad will undergo a mandatory seven-day quarantine in their hotel, and every squad member will be tested three times during the week - on the first, third and sixth day. If all three results come back negative, the squad can start training. After that, all the players would be tested again on the fifth day of every week throughout the tournament.
The franchises had recently requested the IPL to relax the quarantine period for the group of players travelling to the UAE after the England v Australia series, but they got an unofficial thumbs down even as they wait for a final set of SOPs, which also need to be approved by the UAE government
Defending IPL champions Mumbai Indians are the only franchise that will remain unaffected in terms of player unavailability, as Nathan Coulter-Nile and Chris Lynn, the two Australians in their squad, weren't selected for the tour. Lynn is instead preparing to turn out for St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in the Caribbean Premier League, which will kick off on August 18.
It is understood that Royals will be among the first teams to land in the UAE, most likely on August 20 and should have their head coach, the former Australia allrounder McDonald, in their ranks. McDonald was appointed Royals' head coach for a period of three years from IPL 2020.
"When Andrew came on board that was part of our agreement with him that he would be able to continue as head coach of the Rajasthan Royals - and we're really comfortable with that," Ben Oliver, Cricket Australia head of national teams, said. "We believe that's a beneficial outcome for Andrew's development as a coach, but also for our players. Having someone who has had that experience and bring it back into our environment, particularly with three white-ball World Cups coming up in the next three years; two of them in India. It's [a] really valuable experience for Andrew and our team."
McDonald's availability for Royals comes as a significant boost for the team after their fielding coach Dishant Yagnik tested positive for Covid-19. After his 14-day quarantine, Yagnik will undergo two more tests as per the BCCI's protocols. If he tests negative in both, he can leave for the UAE where he will have to self-isolate for six days before undergoing three more tests. Only after clearing those would he be allowed to join the team.