Queensland Cricket is nervously holding its breath, hoping Brisbane’s lockdown does not provide further reason for India to boycott the Gabba Test.
Queensland Cricket is nervously holding its breath, hoping Brisbane’s lockdown does not provide further reason for India to boycott the Gabba Test.

What does Brisbane lockdown mean for Gabba Test?

UPDATE: India may go ahead with the Gabba Test on the condition they can leave Australia as soon as the match is over, a report overnight suggests.

Last night Indian officials had informed Cricket Australia they did not want to play the fourth Test in Brisbane because of fears the mutant virus could jeopardise their forthcoming series against England at home.

BCCI officials also expressed concerns about travelling to a city that is currently in a hard lockdown. Sources said India were still keen to play the fourth Test, but would not risk travelling to Brisbane.

Sydney was the original back-up venue being discussed when the issue first surfaced last week.

But a report from The Times of India overnight suggests officials may have agreed to play at the Gabba, as long as they can leave for home directly after the match.

"The Indian team will play the fourth Test in Brisbane. But BCCI has told CA that arrangements for the team's return to India should be made in a way that the team doesn't have to stay back unnecessarily after the Test ends," an unnamed senior BCCI official told the newspaper.

"The team's departure should be immediate. If possible, they should cut out even the possibility of an overnight stay. The first flight back should be arranged. This is besides the request to allow the players to move freely in the hotel.

"We never objected to playing in Brisbane or any health protocol. The Test is very much on. At the moment, Cricket Australia is working out the logistics with the local government and getting clarity on the three-day lockdown imposed in Queensland."

Cricket Australia had just eased India's concerns over quarantine arrangements in Brisbane before the BCCI changed tact.

Interim Cricket Australia chief Nick Hockley held an ad hoc after-stumps meeting with Indian team officials over the fence at the SCG last night, with a final decision on the fate of the Gabba Test looming large.

Hockley and Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings have been locked in urgent talks with BCCI boss Sourav Ganguly, who is out of hospital after a heart attack and now participating in resolving the situation.

Cricket Australia is fighting to secure an iron-clad agreement from the BCCI and officials said they are confident of still resolving the matter and heading to Brisbane.

It's understood D-Day could be today with a final determination possible. It's been a week of conjecture and innuendo out of a frustrated Indian camp, and the teams are due to fly north on Tuesday.

The Sydney Sixers and Brisbane Heat teams on the Gold Coast have been locked in their hotels since Brisbane's three-day lockdown was announced, with players only allowed out for training and Sunday night's clash, despite the fact they're in a different part of Queensland.

Previously players based in the BBL hub in Queensland have been permitted to leave the hotel to order takeaway meals and even on occasions sit outside to dine at restaurants, however, measures have been tightened in response to the scare over a mutant strain of the virus in Brisbane.

Despite the extra precautions taken for the BBL, a decision was made on Friday that the Sixers-Heat match would not need to be moved, and it's hoped a similar call will be made on next week's fourth Test.

Cricket sources said they were expecting a decision on Sunday.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk indicated on Saturday that she had few doubts about the Test going ahead.

"Discussions are still happening and they're still positive," said the Premier.

India raised a series of queries with CA officials regarding their fears over quarantining measures, including whether police would be roaming the hotel and whether they would be confined to their floor and banned from eating together as a team.

CA has reassured them that none of those measures will be in place, with the only security presence outside the hotel, and players free to roam around the entire facility and eat together in team rooms.

India has remained mysteriously silent on the matter and CA will be anxious about final approval.

The lockdown measures in Brisbane which are due to lift on Monday should have no bearing on the Test match starting on Friday - with a reduction in crowd size perhaps the only conceivable threat.

EARLIER: Queensland Cricket is nervously holding its breath, hoping Brisbane's three-day lockdown does not provide further reason for India to boycott next week's Test.

Theoretically, in a pure cricketing sense, the lockdown could be a blessing for Brisbane, as it was in Adelaide last month, when the city locked down and cleansed itself before hosting its Test.

But nothing is as it seems in the complex world of India-Australia relations.

In Sydney, the Indians have the run of the hotel.

But in Brisbane it's understood the Indians fear being confined to their floors and delivered meals in their individual rooms.

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They want communal areas to eat and mingle in.

These are the points of contention being worked through with Cricket Australia, who are trying to calm their fears and reassure them the conditions imposed on them will be no different to what they're currently experiencing in Sydney.

The concerns have been raised by the Indian team on the ground, but BCCI officials at head office are now working with them to iron out every single detail of the Brisbane arrangement before they're satisfied to proceed.

There is no apparent reason why Queensland's extreme measure to stop a mutant strain of the virus from the UK which has crept out of Queensland's hotel quarantine system should stop the Test going ahead.

But the three-day lockdown must cast a dim view over possible crowd percentages.

The strict lockdown finishes less than four days before the start of the series finale on Friday January 15, and it would seem bizarre to have a city in lockdown one weekend, and then pouring into the Gabba with full crowds the next.

Queensland proudly held a State of Origin with a full crowd in a moment of blissful celebration, and further big crowds are expected for what is guaranteed to be a live finish to the Border-Gavaskar series.

Cricket Australia spent last night locked in urgent crisis talks with an Indian side, trying to reassure them that Queensland's quarantining promise that they will be free to roam around their hotel will not be backtracked on.

They don't want to be locked in their hotel rooms, but Queensland has already said that won't happen.

The BCCI signed off on the protocols last week, but CA is desperately seeking confirmation they won't backflip on their promises.

Cricket Australia is fully committed to going to Brisbane to finish the series and there is no apparent back-up plan - although the SCG could scramble together a pitch at the last moment if they receive word today they are needed.

There have been rumblings out of the Indian camp for the past five days that they feel like "animals in the zoo" and they are furious they've been locked up in Sydney when the rest of the city is roaming free and allowed to attend the Test (in a capped crowd of 10,000).

Originally published as What does Brisbane lockdown mean for Gabba Test?


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