India's touring party and Australia's returning players from the prospective IPL will almost certainly be required to face two weeks of quarantine - most likely in Adelaide - once they touch down for the home summer, but Cricket Australia's acting chief executive Nick Hockley has stressed that all players and staff will be given the best opportunity to train fully within those confines.
After the ICC confirmed the postponement of this year's men's T20 World Cup, Hockley was granted some long-awaited freedom to speak about numerous elements of the forthcoming season, though further clarity around the re-scheduling of the IPL into the now vacant October-November window will need to come from the BCCI. Those deliberations will clear up issues around the availability of Australian IPL-tied players for domestic matches in the one-day cup and Sheffield Shield, but Hockley was at least able to discuss the challenging matters of quarantine.
The BCCI's president, Sourav Ganguly, had previously stated that he was not in favour of having the touring squad stuck in an Australian hotel for two weeks, but Hockley's clear indication was that all players jetting in from overseas would be looking at two weeks of quarantine in an environment where they can also train. This scenario brings Adelaide Oval and its newly constructed hotel, built into the ground's eastern side, firmly into view as the sort of biosecure bubble seen for England's current home series against the West Indies.
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"The two-week quarantine is pretty well-defined," Hockley said. "What we are working on is making sure that even within that quarantine environment, the players have got the absolute best training facilities, so that their preparation for the matches is as optimal as it can possibly be. We'll obviously take the guidance of the health experts and the authorities.
"Whether it's a hotel on-site or hotels in close proximity to venues, it's certainly about creating that environment where we are minimising risk of infections and creating a biosecure environment is the absolute priority. There's a huge amount at stake if we are unable to do that. Certainly the fact that the Adelaide Oval has a hotel...it does provide a facility not dissimilar to Old Trafford or Ageas Bowl where the hotels are integrated into venue."
While there is a great deal of enthusiasm from the Australian government to ensure the summer schedule goes ahead, Hockley said that the travel exemptions that would be required to have India tour, as Covid-19 cases continue to spike in the subcontinent, meant that an exacting standard of biosecurity and testing would be applied.
"It's widely known and it's unlikely that international travel restrictions would have lifted by the time that India will be due to come into the country. Clearly there will be testing regimes. We will be able to test people before that they get on to the plane and it is the nature of the situation of making sure we have the quarantine arrangements in line with government and health authority protocols. The key thing for the players is that there's regular testing and that we appropriately quarantine them when they come in and all of those plans are currently in development."
Some questions have been raised in the "club versus country" vein about Australian players taking part in the IPL in direct conflict with the opening rounds of the domestic season. Such a clash is not without precedent - during the T20 Champions League, numerous cricketers including Mike Hussey and Doug Bollinger were compelled to compete for their IPL teams in the global event in direct competition to preparation for a Test match - and would likely conclude in time for Test team members to take part in a round or two of the Shield before Test matches.
"I think the BCCI have made no secrets that they are considering what that means for the IPL," Hockley said. "For us it's about getting a bit of an understanding and certainty around what that means. Clearly in a normal course, some of our best players are obviously top picks for those IPL teams. It's a bit premature to speculate on that. We need to understand what the plans are if any and once we understand that we will make decisions accordingly."
CA's dealings with the BCCI will also take in a determination over which country will host the 2021 edition of the T20 World Cup, originally scheduled for India, and which nation will host the 2022 tournament.
"In terms of 21 versus 22, we just want to see two great events go ahead in India and Australia," Hockley said. "If it's 21, then the plans are really, really well progressed so we're really well-placed to deliver that event. If it's 2022, it gives a little more time to create even more certainty around the health situation because I think no one knows how long this is going to last."
As for Australia's inaugural Test match against Afghanistan, currently slated to be played in Perth ahead of the India series, Hockley said the one-off fixture was still set to go ahead. "Afghanistan are scheduled to come. They are coming to play," he said. "We're planning to go ahead but there's obviously lots to work through and lots that can happen between now and then. We'll do everything we can to get those opening bowlers to the top of their run and get cricket back being played as the ECB have done so well in England over the last week or two."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig