CA braces for quarantine hurdle during Hobart Test
Some of Australia's leading players may be unavailable for the start of the Hobart Test on November 27 if they reach the World Cup final 13 days earlier
30 June 2021, 08:21 PM AEST
Confirmation of the dates for this year's T20 World Cup poses a fresh logistical challenge for Cricket Australia, with a gap of only 13 days between the tournament's final and the opening men's Test of the summer.
On Tuesday, the ICC formally confirmed the long-expected relocation of the T20 World Cup from COVID-19-stricken India to the UAE and Oman, with the tournament to finish on November 14.
Australia's one-off Test match against Afghanistan, which will mark a first-ever meeting between the two teams, is scheduled to begin in Hobart on November 27, 13 days after the World Cup final.
It means that if Australia make the T20 World Cup final, leading multi-format players like Pat Cummins, Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitch Starc would still be serving their mandatory 14 days of hotel quarantine when the Afghanistan Test is due to start.
CA is understood to have a number of options on the table for this summer, although moving the date of the Hobart Test is not considered among them.
However, exploring options to play the Hobart Test under the same hard quarantine restrictions as last summer's Gabba Test against India is.
On that occasion, a coronavirus outbreak in Sydney forced players to be confined to their hotels for the duration of their stay in Brisbane, apart from training and playing at the Gabba, although fans were still allowed to attend what proved to be a ground-breaking Test for India.
Such a move this summer would be a significant relaxation of the federal government's quarantine measures that CA has been able to secure previously. However, all players and support staff involved in the Hobart Test are expected to be vaccinated and those travelling from the World Cup will be coming from a bio-secure environment.
Another scenario would see Australia select a Test side without its T20 players, which would still be captained by wicketkeeper and Hobart native Tim Paine but would be without the likes of Smith, Warner, Cummins and Starc.
Test players Manus Labuschagne, Will Pucovski, Cameron Green and Nathan Lyon are all currently outside Australia's T20 plans and are not expected to be picked for the World Cup.
But for Afghanistan, who are not as rich in its depth of international-calibre Test cricketers as Australia, to lose their leading players due to quarantine would pose a significant on-field challenge, and the absence of familiar faces such as Rashid Khan would detract from the event.
While no firm travel plans have been made at this stage, players and support staff from Australia, Afghanistan and England would ideally all share a chartered flight back from the UAE after the World Cup.
Should England reach the World Cup final and Afghanistan and Australia be knocked out earlier than that, CA would face a choice between waiting for England to be available to join the chartered flight or stumping up for two separate charters.
The issue of quarantine in Australia is mitigated for England given the first Ashes Test at the Gabba is not due to start until December 8.
A similar shared arrangement for charted flights was in place following last year’s IPL in the UAE when the Australian players involved in that tournament were joined on a charter into Sydney by an expanded contingent of India's limited-overs and Test squads, as well as support staff and the families of some players.
Arrangements with the NSW government saw the players allowed out of their hotel rooms during the 14 days of quarantine under strictly controlled conditions to be able to train, initially in small groups. The full Australian squad was only able to link up the day before the opening match of the summer when the quarantined group met up with the Australian players not involved in the IPL.
Of course, there are no guarantees Australia, Afghanistan or England will make the final of the T20 World Cup, and an early exit, even at the semi-final stage of the tournament, would allow them all to fly home together and for everyone to clear quarantine in time for the start of the Hobart Test.
The Hobart Test precedes the five-match Vodafone Ashes series and will be not only a milestone moment for both Afghanistan and Australia, but also act as an important competitive match for the Aussies ahead of meeting England as part of the new World Test Championship cycle.
CA will continue to work with officials from the ICC, both visiting teams, as well as the state and federal governments in the lead-up to the event to make arrangements.
2021-22 Men's International Season
Vodafone Men's Test v Afghanistan
Nov 27 – Dec 1: Test match, Blundstone Arena
Vodafone Men's Ashes v England
Dec 8-12: First Test, The Gabba
Dec 16-20: Second Test, Adelaide Oval
Dec 26-30: Third Test, MCG
Jan 5-9: Fourth Test, SCG
Jan 14-18: Fifth Test, Perth Stadium