CA hopeful of COVID jabs as Bangladesh tour edges closer

Tour of the West Indies could be followed by a trip to Bangladesh, with plans in the works for more warm-up games ahead of the T20 World Cup

Cricket Australia (CA) is hopeful most of their leading cricketers will be vaccinated next month as they look to lock in details of a tour to Bangladesh, which could limit the participation of some Australian players in the inaugural season of The Hundred.

On Monday, CA named a preliminary 23-player squad for their white-ball tour of the West Indies in July and they are working with Bangladesh officials about heading there direct from the Caribbean for more limited-overs matches, which will act as preparation for this year's T20 World Cup.

Officials are anticipating quarantine and bio-security requirements for both tours as well as upon their return to Australia, but they're also hoping their players will get the COVID jab in the coming weeks following the federal government's recent announcement that those approved to travel abroad will be granted priority access to the vaccine.

"We're hopeful that the touring party that travels to the West Indies is vaccinated, but that's something we're working through logistically now with the relevant people," said Ben Oliver, CA's EGM of National Teams, who noted that Australia's Olympic team had had their vaccinations fast tracked.

"We'll have our plans in place for both scenarios, but that's our hope.

"We've been very consistent in saying that we're not seeking preferential treatment for cricket. We're certainly not wanting to be a burden on the public system and have worked in conjunction with the government to understand the various regulations and policies and how we can best plan around that."

Oliver said he had been "working pretty constructively" with Bangladesh officials about Australia playing for their first bilateral white-ball tour there in more than a decade.

The addition of a Bangladesh leg of the tour could hamper the seven Australian squad members who are signed on the play in The Hundred's debut season, England's new 100-ball competition.

Glenn Maxwell, David Warner, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa, D'Arcy Short and Jhye Richardson all have deals to play in The Hundred and were all named in the squad for the Windies tour on Monday.

The Caribbean tour is scheduled to finish on July 24, three days after The Hundred's opening night. The combination of travel time to Bangladesh, around a week to play matches there and the prospect of having to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in the UK – Bangladesh is currently on the UK government's red list – leaves little time for the Australians to make an impact before The Hundred finishes on August 21.

"We're obviously supportive of overseas tournaments where the schedule allows," Oliver said.

"In relation to those who have Australian commitments, we're obviously still working through the schedule requirements in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup and the home summer. Those who have conflicting opportunities, we'll deal with that in due course on an individual basis."

Australia's women's vice-captain Rachel Haynes has already withdrawn from The Hundred due to the travel and quarantine challenges of the tournament, with the UK's Evening Standard reporting more Australian players, both men and women, are expected to follow suit.

Oliver said further warm-up games will the added to Australia's schedule in the lead-up to the World Cup in October and November, with a T20 tri-series against Afghanistan and the West Indies flagged by Afghanistan's interim CEO last year.

Image Id: 83091CBC230042FBAAC5C434DB299754 Image Caption: Australia's IPL contingent entered hotel quarantine on Monday // AAP

"We've got a plan in place and we're working through that with the respective countries and teams that are involved in that," Oliver said on Monday.

"It's obviously a bit of a jigsaw puzzle and fluid situation with COVID, but we do expect to have some games in the lead-up to that World Cup in addition to the West Indies tour and the Bangladesh opportunity."

Oliver is hopeful those picked for the Caribbean tour will choose to travel despite the ongoing strain of bubble fatigue, which led to allrounder Daniel Sams opting out of the tour on health and wellbeing grounds.

Sams is one of the 40-strong Australian contingent who entered two weeks of mandatory hotel quarantine on Monday after their delayed return from the IPL, with nine of that group to have about a month at home before they're scheduled to head to the Caribbean.

"We'll pick up individual discussions with those who have returned from the IPL about how they're travelling," Oliver said.

"And as part of their management across multiple tours and a big 12 months ahead, we'll work with individuals on that.

"But at this stage, there's an opportunity to play international cricket and travel as an Australian team to prepare for a World Cup and we're hopeful and optimistic that the majority of the players on that list will be in the frame of mind to tackle that opportunity."

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