Dec 24, 2020

Sydney holds onto third Test as Cricket Australia plays waiting game

Cricket Australia gives New South Wales more time to handle its unfolding covid-19 outbreak

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Sydney is clinging onto the third Test for now after the Cricket Australia (CA) board chose to give New South Wales (NSW) more time to handle its unfolding covid-19 outbreak. At the same time, they are holding fruitful discussions with the Queensland state government around the safe passage of players, staff, broadcasters and media to Brisbane for the scheduled fourth Test.

There had been strong prospects for Melbourne being awarded both the second and third Tests of the India series this week amid doubts around the Queensland border being re-opened in time for the tour caravan to travel there directly from Sydney in mid-January. However, CA’s chairman Earl Eddings and interim chief executive Nick Hockley have decided to allow the situation to play out a little further before finalising their decision during the Boxing Day Test itself.

This also means the bold scenario revealed by ESPNcricinfo on Wednesday for the SCG to host each of the final two Tests remains in play, should CA and Queensland health and government officials fail to reach an understanding in time. Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr Jeanette Young, offered cautious optimism about the touring teams and their staff being allowed to enter the state directly from Sydney. CA have met directly with the Queensland premier, Annastacia Pałaszczuk, to discuss their options for the January 15-19 Test.

“I know those cricket matches that have been played in other states, those cricket players have been part of a bubble and we’ve had that experience before if you will remember that’s the process we used for the NRL and the AFL and for other sporting codes,” Dr Young said. “So these cricketers have been part of a bubble.

“They will go into Sydney and continue to be part of a bubble, then if the decision is for the match to go ahead in the current arrangements, and that has not yet been decided, it’s being worked through, they would remain in a bubble and come into quarantine in Queensland and continue to be part of a bubble. But I stress those discussions are happening now and things could very well change, nothing’s been determined at this stage.

“If all of those things are in place at the moment, if they’ve been in a bubble in NSW and not come into contact with the general community in Sydney and if they remain in that bubble coming into Brisbane, then I think it could be done, but there’s a lot of work to be done before that decision is made.”

Hockley said that the CA board’s deliberations were based around ensuring that the governing body did not lock itself into a binding decision too soon given the fluid situation in Sydney. On Thursday, health officials recorded nine new cases, seven linked to the original norther beaches cluster. At the same time, CA is highly conscious of its strong relationship with the NSW government and the SCG Trust, which stepped in to provide India with a port of arrival earlier in the year after their Queensland counterparts prevaricated in the lead-up to the state election.

“We have always maintained that scheduling a full summer of cricket during a global pandemic would require agility, problem-solving and teamwork like never before,” Hockley said. “We continue to place the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved as our number one priority. The record testing numbers and the drop in new community transmissions in NSW have provided cause for optimism, however if the situation in Sydney deteriorates, we have strong contingency plans in place.

“We are working constructively with the Queensland Government and have been encouraged by the positive nature of discussions with them. We thank the Queensland Government for their support. CA has well-established biosecurity protocols in place and through safe completion of the season so far – which has included the women’s internationals in Brisbane, Sheffield Shield in Adelaide, WBBL in Sydney and the men’s ODIs and T20s in Sydney and Canberra – has developed a strong track record of safe and responsible return to sport.”

These sentiments were echoed by Australia’s coach Justin Langer, who said he was at peace with letting the administrators make the best call possible after a year in which he has learned not to worry about things beyond his direct control.

“What I’ve learned over the last nine months is we can only control what we can control,” Langer said, “and if you get distracted by things that are completely out of your control you’ll literally go mad. So we don’t know, I know there’s a lot of work being done, I know it is incredibly complex when you have to potentially change a venue. It’s not just a matter of ‘that sounds like a good idea’. There’s broadcasters, there’s so many stakeholders who are part of the overall decision. But I know people are working overtime.”

Dec 24, 2020

‘It’s a sinking ship, it needs their captain the most’: Dilip Doshi reacts on Virat Kohli’s paternity leave

Terming paternity leave a ‘modern phenomenon’, former India left-arm spinner Dilip Doshi said he wouldn’t have flown back home had he been in Virat Kohli’s shoes.

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Agreeing that it is a personal decision and legally it is not possible to force someone to stay with the team if he wants to leave for the birth of his child, former India left-arm spinner Dilip Doshi said India captain could have changed his mind and considered staying back with the side in Australia for remaining three Tests.

Doshi said it is the job of a captain to take charge of the ‘sinking ship’.

“To me, captaining India would be the prime-most thing on my mind. It’s a sinking ship. This is the time when they need their captain the most. If you leave at this time, you are leaving the side to your deputy with a lot of questions unanswered. I only hope and pray that the team shows enough character to come out of this,” Doshi told Sportskeeda in a video interview.

Doshi, who picked up 114 wickets in 33 Test matches for India.He also picked up 22 wickets in 15 ODIs for India during his career, made the comments after India recorded their lowest Test score of 36 and lost the day-night Test in Adelaide in two and a half days to trail the four-match series 1-0.

Terming paternity leave a ‘modern phenomenon’, Doshi said he wouldn’t have flown back home had he been in Kohli’s shoes.

“I know this is a modern phenomenon that people believe that they ought to be by the side of their family and spouses when they deliver a child. I understand all that. But when you are on a national duty… If I put myself in his shoes, I wouldn’t have gone. For me, national duty comes before everything else.

“This is a highly individual and institutional approach. Legally, you cannot stop somebody doing that. The cricket board cannot have a rule saying the players cannot go and be on the side of their spouses for such an occasion. Personally, I wouldn’t have gone,” added Doshi.

Terming Kohli an ‘outstanding player’, the former India left-arm spinner also stated that India will miss Kohli the batsman more than Kohli the captain.

“He’s an outstanding player. The team will miss him as a player more than as a captain. Him being at the crease gives a lot of confidence to other people,” said the 73-year-old.

Ajinkya Rahane will lead India in the Boxing Day Test match against Australia starting on December 26 in Melbourne.

India will also miss the services of fast bowler Mohammed Shami, who has been ruled out of the series with a fractured wrist.

Dec 24, 2020

‘Don’t believe me? Ask Ashwin and Natarajan’: Gavaskar cites ‘different rules for different people’ in Indian dressing room

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar pointed out the difference in the treatment given to T Natarajan and skipper Virat Kohli in context of getting paternity leaves during the Australia tour.

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Former Indian captain and batting legend Sunil Gavaskar has taken a dig at the Indian team management, claiming that there are ‘different rules for different players’ in the dressing room. Citing the example of left-arm pacer T Natarajan, Gavaskar stated that the newcomer would also be wondering about these ‘rules’.

In his latest column on Sportstar, Gavaskar pointed out the difference in the treatment given to Natarajan and skipper Virat Kohli in the context of getting paternity leaves.

Natarajan became a father while playing the IPL for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. He is yet to see his new-born daughter as he travelled directly to Australia and made his international debut thereafter. Meanwhile, Kohli has left Australia after the 1st Test to be with his family for the birth of his child in India.

Opining strongly on this, Gavaskar wrote, “Another player who will wonder about the rules, but, of course, can’t make any noise about it as he is a newcomer. It is T. Natarajan. The left-arm yorker specialist who made an impressive debut in the T20 and had Hardik Pandya gallantly offering to share the man of the T20 series prize with him had become a father for the first time even as the IPL playoffs were going on.”

“He had become a father for the first time even as the IPL playoffs were going on. He was asked to stay on for the (Australia) Test series but not as a part of the team but as a net bowler. Imagine that. A match winner, albeit in another format, being asked to be a net bowler. He will thus return home only after the series ends in the third week of January and get to see his daughter for the first time then. And there is the captain (Virat Kohli) going back after the first Test for the birth of his first child,” he added.

Gavaskar also cited the example of veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who, as per the former Indian captain, has ‘suffered’ not for his bowling ability but his ‘forthrightness’.

“For far too long Ashwin has suffered not for his bowling ability of which only the churlish will have doubts, but for his forthrightness and speaking his mind at meetings where most others just nod even if they don’t agree. If Ashwin doesn’t take heaps of wickets in one game, he is invariably sidelined for the next one. That does not happen to established batsmen though,” Gavaskar wrote.

Gavaskar ended up his column with the sentence which read, “That’s Indian cricket. Different rules for different people. If you don’t believe me ask Ravi Ashwin and T. Natarajan.”

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