CA hopeful NZ, WI bubble boys can boost BBL
The trans-Tasman travel bubble could help attract overseas players for the BBL and avoid a fortnight of quarantine
24 October 2020, 09:24 AM AEST
Cricket Australia is hopeful the creation of the trans-Tasman travel bubble will lead to an influx of West Indians and Kiwis in the KFC BBL this season after the recruiting efforts of at least one club were hindered by Australia's tight border restrictions.
Less than two months before the season begins, Big Bash recruiters have been scouring the globe in search of big-name talent following the announcement that a third 'marquee' player will be paid for outside the salary cap, with Cricket Australia urging clubs to splash the cash on some T20 superstars.
But confirmation that all BBL imports (apart from those coming from NZ) will be required to complete two weeks of hard quarantine when they arrive in Australia makes a Big Bash stint far less appealing for some of the game's biggest stars.
It's understood at least one international deal has been jeopardised this week by the prospect of 14 days in a hotel, where players will not be allowed out to train.
Even English stars like Jason Roy (Perth Scorchers) and Dawid Malan (Hobart Hurricanes), who will be in a bio-secure bubble in South Africa in the weeks leading up to the BBL for England's matches against the Proteas, won't be exempt from hard quarantine when they arrive in Australia.
The NSW government this week signed off on CA's proposal to allow Australian and Indian players to train during their 14 days of quarantine ahead of the international summer, but a similar exemption is unlikely for BBL internationals.
"We're certainly, at this stage, planning on there being a 14-day quarantine (and) there's be no indication that will change," Cricket Australia's Head of the Big Bash Leagues, Alistair Dobson, said on Friday.
"The health and safety of the community is obviously paramount to everybody."
Imports from England, South Africa and the West Indies for the WBBL, which starts on Sunday, were all required to complete hard quarantine for two weeks before entering the tournament village in Sydney. Players had fitness equipment like treadmills and weights in their hotel rooms, where they had to stay for 14 days.
The tough border restrictions have sharpened the focus on players from New Zealand and the Windies, who should be exempt from quarantine after their three-match series across the Tasman finishes on November 30, subject to Australian Border Force approval.
Having spent 14 days in New Zealand, T20 squad members like Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran and Sheldon Cottrell would all qualify to enter Australia in the trans-Tasman bubble, as would Test players like Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder and Rakheem Cornwall once the Tests against the Kiwis finish on December 15.
However, it's understood Pollard won't take part in the BBL this season and while Pooran has been in discussions with at least one Big Bash club, he's keen to return home after a taxing period away from his family that's required him to be in bio-secure hubs for both the CPL and IPL.
Currently, the trans-Tasman bubble allows direct passage from New Zealand into NSW, South Australia and the Northern Territory and there are hopes other states will soften their borders in the coming weeks.
Dobson said the travel bubble has created "a unique opportunity" for BBL clubs and even expressed optimism that some Kiwi players could be tempted over to play in the Big Bash if gaps could be found in NZ's home schedule.
"I know there's conversations happening and certainly there's a unique opportunity there to capitalise on, if that's the way our clubs decide to go," Dobson said of the travel bubble.
"If there's players there that are available and suit the contracting and list strategies of our clubs, that'd be a great result.
"I know there's players from New Zealand that we'd love to have in the BBL, if it can line up. I can see a way for them to be part of it. They've got their own commitments at the same time and again, it all comes down to the unique requirements of each club and borders and contract strategies.
"But there certainly looks like there's a unique opportunity this year with that opportunity opening up."
New Zealand's three-format stars like Kane Williamson, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson would be off limits to BBL clubs until January 7 due to Tests and T20s against the Windies and Pakistan, but white-ball stars like Martin Guptill and Colin Munro should be free of international commitments outside the T20s against the Windies (Nov 27-30) and Pakistan (Dec 18-22).
New Zealand's domestic T20 tournament, the Super Smash, will run from 24 December to 14 February, meaning it will clash with the BBL.
The full fixture for BBL|10 is yet to be finalised, but it's expected to start around December 10 and finish in early February.
Scorchers recruit Liam Livingstone said this week he was not clear on the specific quarantine requirements for his arrival in Australia, and whether or not he would be allowed to train during the two weeks of isolation.
"Whatever it is, we've got to do it," the Englishman said.
"Obviously … the best situation (would be) we could still get to a gym and get to net facilities. That would give us the best chance to come straight out of quarantine and into playing.
"Everyone's going to have to do two weeks … it is what it is. It's part of the world, there are a different challenges than what we're used to. Ultimately, it's our job to get over them and perform when we get a chance in the Big Bash."