Players coming to the IPL from the England-Australia limited-overs series will be available for selection for their teams’ first matches, contrary to fears they that might be held up by quarantine rules in the UAE. According to Kolkata Knight Riders chief executive officer Venky Mysore, the players won’t have to undergo the IPL’s mandatory six-day quarantine given they are travelling from one bio-secure bubble into another.
That means those travelling to Dubai will be available to their teams from day one – Dubai has no mandatory quarantine period unless the person tests positive. KKR’s players – the team is based in Abu Dhabi – though will need to quarantine for six days under local government rules, but even by that timeframe they should be available for KKR’s first match on September 23. The players will all be flown into the UAE on September 17 – a day after the England-Australia series ends – on a chartered flight.
Mysore also said negotiations were still on with the Abu Dhabi authorities to further shorten the six-day quarantining period. Abu Dhabi has had strict rules around people entering the emirate from outside (at present 14-day quarantines are mandatory) but, it is understood that a concession has been made in allowing players to train after six days as long as they remain within their team’s bubble.
There are three players – England captain Eoin Morgan and batsman Tom Banton and Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins, who will be joining KKR’s squad in Abu Dhabi. KKR and Mumbai are the only two teams based in Abu Dhabi, and Mumbai has no players coming in from the England-Australia series. The six other teams are based in Dubai.
“While they are still negotiating with the authorities, we are reconciled to the fact that we may have to quarantine our three players,” Mysore told ESPNcricinfo, in a wide-ranging interview that will soon be published in full. “They arrive on September 17, but our first game is on September 23, by which time they would’ve finished their [concessional six-day] quarantine. So it’s worked out well, and it’s good for the tournament.”
Mysore said “receptiveness” from the IPL governing council towards the idea of ensuring a smooth transfer of players from one biosecure bubble in the UK to another in the UAE has made this possible. Earlier, Royal Challengers Bangalore chairman Sanjeev Churiwala too had confirmed players coming from the UK wouldn’t have to quarantine under IPL rules.
“What we did was put a plan together and shared it with the medical team at the IPL,” Mysore said. “We told them, ‘they’re in a bio-secure bubble in UK. What if we brought them on a sanitised charter flight and we took care of all the elements of immigration, testing, contactless stuff and everything to allow them to come right into a bubble here?’ To give credit to IPL, they took it very constructively and they have a written Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for that, which says if you’re coming from a bubble to another bubble, you don’t need the mandatory quarantine period.”
The same holds true of what Knight Riders aim to do for their IPL-bound CPL players from Trinidad & Tobago. The CPL ends on Thursday, and the players are going to fly out to the UAE on Saturday. Knight Riders have gone to the extent of ensuring the team bus, driven by a driver from within the bubble, will drop the players to the tarmac at the airport, thereby avoiding long procedural delays. Knight Riders have Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Chris Green joining them from Trinidad.
“We’re bringing all our players on a charter straight to Abu Dhabi. Even smallest of detail like how they will go from hotel to airport – they go in a bus with driver who is part of the bubble – straight to the tarmac. That is the level of detailing we have gone into, because of which they have waived the quarantine period.”
Morgan, having already been through life in a bio-bubble, was asked to compare the ones in England with the ones in the IPL. “I think it’s going to be an easier challenge than staying at Southampton and Manchester, where the hotels are on the ground,” he said on Thursday, ahead of the first ODI against Australia. “Where we’re staying in Abu Dhabi will be nowhere near the ground. It has a beach, has a pool. So I think managing that might be a little bit better. And if you add in the fact that families are allowed into the biosecure bubble, it makes a huge difference. So, a lot more positive things than potentially the bubble that we have.”