"If someone violates any rules or any guidelines that have been set by us a franchise, what happens? What are the repercussions?" Virat Kohli kicked off the inaugural virtual meeting of Royal Challengers Bangalore with that question, which was addressed to his team director Mike Hesson.
Hesson, who took charge of Royal Challengers after last IPL, did not mince words, saying any "wilful" breach of the protocol would be dealt "very seriously."
"We have a document the BCCI have written, which is basically part of your contract," Hesson said while addressing the virtual meeting which was held in the Dubai. Royal Challengers reached the UAE last week to participate in the 2020 IPL, which was moved to the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"If there's a breach of the bubble, if it's a wilful act, then that becomes a contractual issue between the player and RCB; it will be dealt with very seriously," Hesson told the players and support staff during a virtual team meeting."
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If the breach was "accidental", Hesson pointed out the person would be "removed" from the team bubble. "They have to go into isolation for seven days, have to repeat their [covid] tests before they're allowed into the bubble again. So there are some protocols which we will go through.
"As you [Kohli] alluded to, if there's somebody who breaks this bubble, that we've worked incredibly hard to ascertain and put in place, it affects the whole tournament. It's not just RCB, it's actually the tournament, the TV rights. There will be strong consequences if players choose to do that. Every player from every team will need to sign a document which basically explains the consequences around that."
Kohli counted 34 members of the Royals Challengers squad, including the coaching staff led by Hesson and head coach Simon Katich, during the virtual meeting, which he said was first of a kind. Also present on the meeting were AB de Villers, Yuzvendra Chahal and Chris Morris, who was bought at the auction last December.
Having moved the tournament out of India, which has the third-highest number of Covid-19 infections globally, the IPL has laid down rigorous protocols, including testing process for all stakeholders and teams. Currently all eight teams are holed up in their rooms, undergoing the mandatory six-day quarantine after which they can start training.
Kohli said he "could not wait" to start the training having been in in lockdown for the past six months, but emphasised the need to stick to the guidelines. "If someone was to end up in such a situation or position, for me that's letting the whole team down," Kohli said.
"Because it might happen at a stage of a tournament where we can't afford to lose that player. If he does so, and we get harmed by it, then the whole team, the whole system and culture loses. I just wanted to talk about this so that everyone understands the repercussions that may take place if someone violates the rules."
Last month, England fast bowler Jofra Archer was dropped from a Test match against West Indies on disciplinary grounds for a biosecurity breach. Archer took an unauthorised detour to his home in Brighton while on his way from Southampton to Old Trafford. It is a move that "could have been a disaster" which cost English cricket "tens of millions of pounds," according to ECB's director of cricket Ashley Giles.
Royal Challengers' squad landed in Dubai on Friday. All members, barring four players - Aaron Finch, Kane Richardson, Joshua Phillipe and Moeen Ali - have linked up with the squad.