Right after arriving in Bangladesh, the Australian cricket team went into a three-day quarantine in a hotel in the capital from Thursday. This is dictated by Bangladesh government's Covid-19 protocol, and the Bangladesh cricket team, which arrived back from Zimbabwe the same day, is also now going through the mandatory quarantine of three days.
That should be straightforward enough, but what is proving a far bigger ask is maintaining the strict bio-secure bubble, or biobubble, according to Australia's requirements, and Mushfiqur's exclusion from it.
The experienced wicketkeeper-batsman sought to enter the bubble on July 22, two days after it came into effect.
As per the agreement between the two cricket boards, both the squads have to maintain a ten-day bio-secured bubble ahead of the series. Since both Bangladesh and Australia were touring Zimbabwe and West Indies respectively, it was not possible for them to maintain a ten-day quarantine period in Dhaka ahead of the five-match T20I series-opening game on August 3.
So both the boards came to an agreement to include their respective bio-bubbles in Zimbabwe and the West Indies as part of the pre-series ten-day quarantine in Dhaka which is mandatory.
“It’s really unfortunate for Mushfiqur. He had to come back from Zimbabwe as both of his parents were sick, and while staying with them, he missed the quarantine deadline. He was so eager to take part in this series. In that sense, it’s very unfortunate and unfair for him,” Faruque Ahmed, former Bangladesh captain and former chief of the national selector panel, told UNB.
“We know that before a series, all the involving boards came to an agreement. I’m sure it took place ahead of this series as well. Since we have been living in a pandemic for more than one and a half years, Australia came up with some conditions to ensure their safety, and BCB agreed to that as Australia are visiting Bangladesh after a long time,” he added.
Mushfiqur had earlier decided to skip the T20Is against Zimbabwe to be fit and available for the Australia series. However, he had to come back from Zimbabwe early for his parents’ sickness.
Bangladesh team members also believe that it was unfair that Mushfiqur was not allowed to enter the bio-secure bubble. Some of them pointed to the absurdity of not allowing Mushfiqur to enter the bubble following appropriate testing, when the entire team had gone through four airports - Harare, Johannesburg, Delhi and Dhaka - on their return trip from Zimbabwe, and that didn't violate the bubble apparently.
“We came in a commercial flight passing through three airports so I don't know if it makes much sense to keep Mushfiqur out of the series. He went back home from the middle of a tour for a family problem. So to not allow him to enter the quarantine after just two or three days, is not right,” a Bangladesh team member was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
Bangladesh are going to miss the services of Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das as well. Mustafizur Rahman is also doubtful for the first couple of matches as the pacer has been suffering from an ankle injury sustained during a tour match in Zimbabwe. There are worries over Shakib Al Hasan’s fitness as well.
Indeed to fulfil Australia’s demand, Bangladesh had to manage quarantine for match officials, ground staff, and technicians who operate DRS. Bangladesh also managed a direct path for the Australian team to get to their team hotel from the airport tarmac, bypassing immigration.
The five-match series will be packed into a week, with the first match on Monday, August 3. Then again on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and the final fixture on Sunday, August 9. All the matches will be hosted at the single venue— Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.