Hope against hope

Sports Correspondent

16 September, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Hope against hope

Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo, centre, fast-bowling coaching Ottis Gibson, left, and fielding coach Ryan Cook are seen in a training session along national ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal and Test captain Mominul Haque at the SBNCS on Tuesday. — SUN Photo

Let them make the call, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chief executive officer Nizamuddin Chowdhury opined immediately after the press conference of BCB president Nazmul Hasan through which he announced that the Tigers will not travel to Sri Lanka for the proposed three-match Test series with a 14-day quarantine in place.

BCB is still waiting for their counterpart to make the first call regarding any development related to the tour despite a day passed by in between but one thing looks evident that tourists are not losing hope.

BCB have all the reason to be hopeful as Minister of Sports Namal Rajapaksa has instructed Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to look into issues raised by the BCB over the upcoming Test series after the BCB president Nazmul Hassan rejected SLC’s terms and conditions, including a 14-day quarantine.

“As we all know the #COVID-19 pandemic is still at large globally, prevention measures are a high priority. However, given the significance of #cricket in the region, I have asked @OfficialSLC to consult the Covid task force and reconsider the @BCBtigers matter,” Minister of Sports Namal Rajapaksa tweeted on Monday.

As a result, tourists did not move away from the tour plan and continued to have the individual training until September 17 as they are scheduled to have the first round of corona tests on the following day while the next two tests are expected to be completed respectively on September 21 and 24 and the final test 72 hours before they take the flight to Sri Lanka.

The Daily Sun understands that SLC had a board meeting on Tuesday where it was proposed to shorten the 14-day quarantine period while adding few more individuals in the tour party after initially suggesting that they would be able to accommodate only 30 men.

SLC officials are expected to meet the hosts Covid-19 task force with the new proposal on September 16 and will send the recommendation to BCB afterward.

Though it was leant that SLC discussed in the board meeting to propose the government to shortened the quarantine period and increase members in the tour party, it seemed to be quite surprising considering the stance SLC president Shammi Silva clearly dismissed BCB’s claim that they were given an impression that they required seven days quarantine though his counterpart Nazmul insisted in that line.

“If they have mentioned this then it is incorrect. I really do not know as to why they refer to a week. In any case, we have not held talks with the BCB regarding a seven-day quarantine period. However, we are unable to go beyond the period that has been stipulated by the health authorities. It is guaranteed that the Bangladesh team have to undergo the mandatory a 14-day quarantine period,” Silva was quoted in Ceylon today (Tuesday).

“Even before arriving in Sri Lanka they (Bangladesh) have to undergo a quarantine period and once they touch down in Colombo they will have to be subjected to the compulsory quarantine programme for a fortnight in their hotel. All costs will be borne by the SLC,” he added.

According to The Island, Sri Lanka could end up not playing any international cricket at all this year after the Ministry of Health put up strict health guidelines for visiting teams to resume cricket. SLC was expected to host Bangladesh for three Test matches later next month and had identified Pallekele and SSC as the two venues as well for the games. However, the tourists have opposed the two-week quarantine requirement demanded by the Health Ministry.

While BCB had indicated that its players are willing to do seven days of quarantine, they have said no to two weeks of quarantine.

SLC officials were hopeful that the Health Ministry will be able to make some concessions. What they were looking at is to let players do one week of quarantine and then get them into a ‘bubble’ whereby they can do training and get ready for the series, a protocol followed in England when Australia, Pakistan and  West Indies toured the country for bilateral cricket.

SLC was awaiting feedback from BCB and then will hold discussions with Health Ministry officials to draft safety guidelines more acceptable. Cricket officials, however, accepted the fact that when the government had done well in combating the pandemic, they had to respect the demands to keep the deadly decease at bay.

Whether this will proceed as per plan or will be postponed can only be determined after SLC officials sit with the Covid-19 task force of their country but until that time Bangladesh have nothing else but to wait with hope that their counterpart will be able to manage the government and the tour schedule is not disrupted any further.

Bangladesh’s tour of Sri Lanka, which was scheduled for July-August, was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bangladesh, as per the current plans, are expected to travel to Sri Lanka on September 27 for the three-Test series that is scheduled to start from October 24.