Strict quarantine rules are putting the Bangladesh cricket team’s New Zealand tour in jeopardy. The Test squad is currently in New Zealand for a 2-Test series.
Although the team reached New Zealand more than a week ago, they haven’t yet had the opportunity to play any cricket, or even practice outdoors.
According to the schedule, Tigers were supposed to start training after three days of in-room quarantine. But after Bangladesh’s spin bowling consultant Rangana Herath tested positive for Covid-19, the whole team’s in-room quarantine got extended, and now it will last till December 21 – next Tuesday.
After the next Covid-19 test on December 21, the Tigers will be allowed to practice outdoors provided all the players and support staff return negative.
The cricketers have been in highly restrictive bio-bubbles for months at a stretch, going back to the T20 World Cup that took place in Oman and UAE. After that, they were in bio-bubble in the series against Pakistan. Right after that, they are still in a bio-secure bubble for the New Zealand series.
Some of the players of the Bangladesh team in New Zealand at the moment have been experiencing ‘bubble fatigue’, and even expressed a desire to return home if possible, but the board did not allow them as the two-match Test series against New Zealand is part of the ICC World Test Championship.
“That was not possible as we are committed to playing this series in the current schedule,” Nazmul Hasan, the president of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) told the media on Saturday.
“We will sit with them again after the next test is done on December 21. If the quarantine period is extended again, we may have to take a decision (regarding rescheduling the series),” Nazmul added.
Bangladesh team is unlikely to get a long break from bio-bubble in a long time. After the New Zealand series, the next season of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) is scheduled. The players will have to enter another bubble for BPL. After that, Afghanistan are scheduled to visit Bangladesh, and then the Tigers are slated to travel to South Africa. There is little time in between these events.
While travelling to New Zealand, 9 members of the delegation including six players took a separate flight from the rest, and a different passenger on that flight tested positive after landing in Auckland. Accordingly all the passengers on that flight, including the Bangladesh team members, had to enter strict quarantine, said BCB president.
The first Test of the series is scheduled to start on January 1, with the second to be played from January 9.
Bangladesh started the current cycle of the World Test Championship with the home series against Pakistan in which they were thoroughly outplayed, losing 2-0.