Bangladesh’s tour to Sri Lanka, which was scheduled in October, has been further postponed after a disagreement between the BCB and SLC over the quarantine protocols for the visiting players. The protocol in place was that the Bangladesh Cricketers would be confined to their hotel rooms for a span of 14 successive days, following which the testing process would begin.
Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hasan, who declared that Bangladesh will not go ahead with the tour if the 14-day quarantine was put in place, said, “Any tourist who is entering Sri Lanka has to abide by this rule (of 14 days in quarantine). They (SLC) have told us that they couldn’t do anything about this point (quarantine). We have informed them that we have to reschedule the tour to a time when things will improve.
“We cannot play the ICC Test Championship according to their guidelines. Their cricket board and sports ministry tried very hard. They agreed to all but one of our requirements, but that one is the real one. The 14-day quarantine.”
ALSO READ: BCB approves one-time allowance for women cricketers to help them cope with COVID-19 crisis
According to ESPNCricinfo, the Sri Lankan health authorities’ insistence on a 14-day quarantine was partly down to the COVID-19 situation in Bangladesh, and some high-profile members of the potential squad had also tested positive for the virus. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, has had lesser spread of the virus for the last few months, and life has largely returned to normal, aside from tight controls at the border.
One SLC official expressed mild frustration at the government, calling health authorities “completely inflexible”, but also suggested both the authorities and SLC were wary of being blamed for a potential outbreak via the tour. Another SLC official also said that the BCB had asked for a three-day quarantine at one stage, which the official described as “ridiculous”.
Sri Lanka Cricket had floated several plans they felt would be more palatable to the BCB, but each of these was rejected by Sri Lanka’s health authorities. The question of why Sri Lanka could not be flexible when England had been during their home summer had been raised.
However, the response from health authorities had been that although in England’s case the biosecure bubbles had been mostly designed to protect players from infection – with community spread rampant in England – Sri Lanka was attempting to protect the public from potential carriers arriving from overseas. Unlike Manchester and Southampton, Sri Lanka also does not have venues with on-site hotels.
Hasan added, “There’s a difference between ‘quarantine’ and ‘isolation’. If we put someone in home quarantine, he or she cannot get out of the house. But when someone is COVID positive, we put them in isolation which means that person can’t get out of the room.
“What they are mentioning as ‘quarantine’ is actually full isolation, which means the person cannot get out of the room. A cricketer will need a long time to regain (fitness) – physically and mentally – from this isolation. In that situation, it won’t be possible to play, we have said it before.”
ALSO READ: Sanjay Bangar not taking up BCB coaching offer, cites personal and professional commitments
BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury said, “We have always maintained that preparation of the team was a priority as the players are coming off a six-month gap from any cricket due to the COVID-19 situation in the country. Therefore, in line with the standard practice in relation to COVID-19 and quarantine for cricket teams in countries where the game has resumed, we wanted the Bangladesh Team to have proper training opportunities in Sri Lanka before they started playing. We never considered fielding an unprepared side in international cricket.
“The BCB is respectful to the health and safety requirements of every country during the pandemic and had requested SLC to consider a more flexible form of quarantine for the Bangladesh Team in Sri Lanka so that it could start training as a group as early as possible upon arrival.
“However, from their response, we understand that the Ministry of Health of the Sri Lanka Government at the moment was not in a position to make exemptions to its latest ‘Health Guideline’ and that the same restrictions applicable to general visitors will remain in place for the Bangladesh Team which includes a mandatory 14-day strict quarantine in respective rooms of the hotel on reaching.”