Covid clouds over the fourth Test as Brisbane heads to a 3-day lockdown


Steve Smith is all set to play at Brisbane (ICC Twitter/ANI)

A case of the more contagious UK strain of COVID-19 is the latest spanner in the works for CA’s hopes to close out the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series at the Gabba

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Amid the growing doubt over the fate of the fourth Test between Australia and India at The Gabba, Steve Smith said as players “we play where we are told to” asserting that hosts are fully prepared for the final Test to be played in Brisbane despite having strict quarantine rules.

“To my knowledge, not anything is changed from our point of view, we will wait and see and that is not our decision to make, we are the players and we go where we are told and do what we need to do, but we would love to play at the Gabba for sure,” Smith told the media during the virtual press conference at the end of the second day’s action at the SCG. Queensland’s Health Authorities has made it clear that strict quarantine rules have to be followed by the Australian and Indian cricket team in Brisbane since they would be coming from a declared hotspot — Sydney.

Off late, Sydney has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases and as a result, there are travel and border restrictions for people travelling from Sydney.

Amid concerns over the fourth Test at Gabba in Brisbane due to mandatory quarantine and tighter biosecurity restrictions, former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar said that the Indian cricketing board is fully committed to protecting its team. Gavaskar mentioned that players are required to stay in a bubble but the crowds are allowed in the stands despite the curbs on mass gathering at public places. A full crowd of 36,000 per day had been permitted for the final Test. The health scare in the city, however, has left those attendance caps in jeopardy.

A hotel quarantine worker’s positive test to the more contagious UK strain of COVID-19 is the latest spanner in the works for CA’s hopes to close out the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series at the Gabba, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“In Sydney, there are people coming to the ground and then going back and having dinner at a restaurant or having a gathering of 20, 30 people in a pub,” Gavaskar said in commentary for Channel Seven on Friday.

Earlier, Queensland’s Health Shadow Minister Ros Bates’ comments regarding quarantine guidelines for the fourth Test in Brisbane did not go down too well with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as it felt that the team’s image was shown in poor light.

Disappointed by the turn of events, the BCCI is rethinking if it should turn the four-Test series into a three-game contest and end it with the Pink Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

The official said if a public representative does not want the team to go and play, that is hurtful. Pointing at Rohit Sharma undergoing a 14-day quarantine after landing in Sydney, the official said propagating a view that the Indian team does not wish to follow rules is sad.

With questions raised on whether the Indian team would be willing to follow strict quarantine protocols for the final Test of the series at The Gabba, Bates said: “If the Indians don’t want to play by the rules, don’t come.”

Before the third Test, commenting on the challenges of quarantine, stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane had said: “See, being in quarantine has its own challenges, as a team, we are just focusing on the game, outside life in Sydney is completely normal but the players are in quarantine which has its own challenge but we have to face it. We are not complaining and we are focusing on the third Test.

The Indian squad has strong reservations about playing at Gabba Cricket Ground (ICC Twitter/ANI)

Australia’s third-largest city of Brisbane will enter a three-day lockdown from Friday afternoon after a local resident was found to be infected with the mutant strain of COVID-19.

The tough restrictions came after a young cleaner working in Brisbane’s quarantine hotel was found to be infected with the mutant strain of coronavirus that used to be detected in Britain. She is also the first locally acquired case of the highly infectious COVID-19 strain.

At the same time, all the other states will declare the Greater Brisbane area as a hotspot according to reports by the Australian citing South Australian Premier Steven Marshall, who just attended the special meeting of National Cabinet on Friday.

South Australia also enforced stricter border rules with the Greater Brisbane area. From midnight Friday, anyone coming into South Australia from the Greater Brisbane area will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

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