The Indian cricket team is all set to leave for Brisbane on Tuesday after BCCI secretary Jay Shah’s assurance to Cricket Australia ended the uncertainty over the Queensland capital hosting the fourth and final Test from January 15 with 50 percent crowd capacity.
The BCCI had written to CA about the relaxation of hard quarantine rules in Brisbane as that would have confined the Indian squad to the hotel, something the players had strong reservations about.
“I want to thank the Queensland Government for their cooperation and willingness to working closely with CA and the BCCI so we can deliver the fourth Test as planned..,” CA interim CEO Nick Hockley said in a statement.
Hockley added: “... but more importantly delivering on a plan that places the safety and wellbeing of the players, match officials and the wider community as a top priority.”
Over the past week, all the BCCI sources PTI spoke to confirmed that not for once they asked for a change of venue but did specify why back-to-back hard quarantine wasn’t ideal for the mental health of players.
The players are now expected to be in an IPL-like bio-bubble where they can mingle among themselves in the hotel.
The problem arose after Queensland closed its borders for people travelling from New South Wales in the wake of fresh COVID-19 cases in Sydney.
However, the Indian players were exempted and they were to follow a strict quarantine. A three-day lockdown announced last week after the UK variant of COVID-19 was found in the city added to the uncertainty.
With the clarity over the game emerging finally, CA also announced the crowd seating plan.
“Acting on advice of the Queensland Health and the Queensland Government, Cricket Australia and Stadiums Queensland are working together to ensure the safety of patrons attending the Brisbane Test on January 15, with a crowd capacity of 50% at The Gabba,” the CA release stated. “Similar to the process of reducing at crowds at The Gabba to deliver a socially distanced seating plan, the match will now be re-ticketed and current ticket holders will receive a full refund, including all associated costs such as ticket insurance,” it added.
Queensland Sports Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the whole state is looking forward to the big game.
“The Gabba’s usually fast and bouncy pitch makes it a favourite with fans as Australia’s Test cricket fortress,” Hinchliffe said. “COVID-19 pandemic has made this anything but an ordinary Test to prepare for. I want to thank Cricket Australia and the BCCI for working closely with the Chief Health Officer and the Queensland Government to make this a COVID-safe Test.”
Australia have not lost a Test at the Gabba since 1988.
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