Indian cricketers could be fined if found guilty for breaching bio-bubble

The five Indian cricketers who have been facing probe into the alleged breach of Cricket Australia’s (CA) bio-security protocols and were put in isolation could face fines if investigations find them guilty going by the past instances of the cricketers.

Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Navdeep Saini and Prithvi Shaw have been put in isolation as both the Australian and Indian cricket boards launched an investigation into a video in which they were seen sitting indoors in a restaurant and suspected to be in breach of Cricket Australia’s bio-security protocols.

Last month, just a couple of days before the start of India-Australia Test series, Cricket Australia (CA) had found Chris Lynn and Dan Lawrence, who were representing Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League, breaching its code of conduct for the T20 tournament.

Both players and members of the public came in close contact and a selfie of the incident later emerged on social media which prompted CA’s investigation.

Brisbane Heat were fined USD 50,000, with USD 20,000 suspended for the remainder of the BBL season for a breach of sections 1, 3, 4 and 9 of the Covid-19 Directive for State Associations and W/BBL Teams.

Both Lynn and Lawrence were charged for four breaches of CA’s code of conduct. The players were fined USD 10,000, with USD 4,000 suspended for the remainder of the BBL 10 season.

The England and Wales Cricket Board had in July fined their premier fast bowler Jofra Archer with an undisclosed amount for breaching the bio-bubble and going to his home in Brighton after the end of the first Test in Southampton. He was also dropped for the second Test as a penalty.

As per the protocols for players and officials in the ongoing India-Australia series, players are allowed to eat in restaurants but they need to sit outdoors and not indoors. They can also walk and not use public transport.

Controversy emerged after a fan, named Navaldeep Singh, posted a video of the players eating inside the Secret Kitchen Noodles & BBQ restaurant in Melbourne and also claimed that he had hugged Rishabh Pant. Though he later retracted saying he had not hugged Pant.

The breach at the restaurant assumes significance especially after a recent rise of Covid-19 cases in Victoria, where Melbourne is located, and around Sydney in New South Wales where the third Test will be played from January 7.

A statement from Cricket Australia earlier in the day had said that it, along with the Indian cricket board, has started investigations into a possible breach by players.

“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket Australia (CA) were today alerted to a video post on social media that purported to show Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and Navdeep Saini eating at an indoor venue in Melbourne on New Year’s Day,” a statement from Cricket Australia said.

“The BCCI and CA are investigating the matter and seeking to determine whether the outing constitutes a breach of biosecurity protocols,” the statement added.

“In the interim, on the advice of the Australian and Indian medical teams, the aforementioned players have been placed in isolation as a precaution. This will include separating the group of players from the broader Indian and Australian squads when traveling and at the training venue,” it added.

With reports emerging about Team India’s reluctance to play the fourth and final Test of the ongoing series against Australia in Brisbane due to harsher bio-security protocols, members of the Queensland government have stated that the visiting team should not enter the state if they are unwilling to coordinate with the protocols that have been laid out.

Reports have emerged that the Indian team isn’t keen on travelling to Brisbane if the players are forced to undergo quarantine.

However, members of the Queensland government have stated that not abiding by the rules is not an option for the visitors. “If the Indians don’t want to play by the rules, don’t come,” Queensland’s Health Shadow Minister Ros Bates was quoted as saying by Fox Sports.

Tim Mander, Queensland’s Shadow Sports Minister, said there’s no room for ignoring the protocols and that every individual would have to go through the same drill.

“If the Indian cricket team wants to spit the dummy and disregard quarantine guidelines in Brisbane for the fourth Test, then they shouldn’t come. The same rules must apply for everyone. Simple,” Mander said.

Australia batsman Matthew Wade has also said that the hosts are looking forward to the Gabba Test and willing to make sacrifices to follow the schedule.

“We’d love to be running outside in Australia like everybody is doing right now…but we understand that we need to make some sacrifices to get this tour done,” Wade told the media before adding none of the players are aware of any threat of India pulling out.

Asked if he would like to play back-to-back Tests in Sydney due to harsher quarantine in Brisbane, Wade said, “No. Obviously we would prefer not to. The schedule has been rolled out, we stick to that. There was speculation about staying in Melbourne. Cricket Australia was firm that we will stick to the schedule that we rolled out at the start of the summer.”

“So I expect us to go to Gabba regardless of the fact that it is a quarantine-based hotel and we only go to the ground, play and come back to hotel. We fully expect to go to Brisbane to play the Gabba Test,” he added.

The left-handed batsman further said that there is going to be no uncertainty from Australia’s side.

“(There’s) No uncertainty from our side…we understand that us as a group we will go to SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground) and then we’ll go to Brisbane and play at the Gabba until powers that be knock on our doors and tell us that it is going to change. We will roll into the next game expecting if that’s what is going to be. It is out of our control,” Wade said before adding that they have already been told about stricter protocols in Brisbane to which they are willing to adhere.

“Brisbane will be a harder quarantine and bio-security bubble than what we have had here, that is for sure. That has been relayed to us. No one knows the finer details of it yet. But yes, it would be strict protocol than here.”

The ongoing four-match series is currently tied at 1-1 with Australia winning the first Test in Adelaide while India registering a win in the second in Melbourne. The third Test of the series will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground from Thursday.

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