Disagreements over Covid-19 protocols continue to dog Bangladesh's World Test Championship series in Sri Lanka, which is scheduled to begin in late October. Last week, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had informed the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) that the Bangladesh players would need to be in quarantine for one week upon landing in the island, before being able to train.
SLC has now increased the quarantine period to 14 days, and BCB president Nazmul Hassan has said it won't be possible for his players to be confined to their hotel rooms for that long. Immediately after the BCB had spelled out its stance, Sri Lanka's sports minister Namal Rajapaksa tweeted that he has asked the SLC to consult the Covid task force to reconsider the matter.
After an emergency board meeting, Hassan said that they had been working on a schedule with a seven-day quarantine in mind. But a 14-day period would mean that the Bangladesh Test squad, all of whom haven't played a competitive match in six months, will get just one week to prepare for the first Test scheduled on October 23.
"We cannot play World Test Championships with these term and conditions," Hassan said. "Until their letter yesterday, both boards were having discussions along the lines of a seven-day quarantine," Hassan said. "But now their terms and conditions are nowhere near those discussions, and neither are they anything close to what other countries hosting cricket in the pandemic are doing. There are three or seven-day quarantines in those places where the players can either train among themselves or use the gym.
Hassan said that the SLC's limiting of their entourage, while at the same time refusing to give them net bowlers, would be further troubling for the touring side.
"[SLC] have told us that our players can't even step out of the hotel room. Not even for food. They have also chosen Dambulla as the venue for the initial training camp which would leave us isolated in any case. They can have the domestic league with so many players nationwide but we have to face such tough restrictions. I have found out that other teams haven't faced such conditions. We are astounded."
As we all know the #COVID19 pandemic is still at large globally, prevention measures are a high priority. However, given the significance of #cricket in the region, I have asked @OfficialSLC to consult the covid task force and reconsider the @BCBtigers matter. https://t.co/Ed9VtwpEt0— Namal Rajapaksa (@RajapaksaNamal) September 14, 2020
When the tour was first agreed upon, the BCB had planned to send their High Performance team over as well so that they can play the Test team and help them prepare over the first two weeks of their tour. The BCB would bear all costs even if it meant at least a 60-member contingent traveling together from Dhaka, and then returning from Colombo, after both teams' tour ends in mid-November. Bangladesh's first two practice matches were also scheduled against the HP side, after which the SLC was supposed to take over and host one practice match before the Test series. But the SLC was handed these stricter conditions by the country's health authorities this week, which they conveyed to the BCB.
"Seeing that they started domestic cricket, we informed the SLC that we are coming with a big squad so that we can have our training camp there," Hasan said. "But they will not allow us to train when our players have been inactive for seven months. They won't even let us take net bowlers and neither are they going to provide us with any net bowlers. How can we play World Test Championship without any training? So it is not possible for us."
Bangladesh were scheduled to leave for Colombo on September 27, with the first Test slated to begin on October 23.