World Test Championship: Indian travel ban casts doubt over Blackcaps v India showpiece final

  • Updated
  • 20/04/2021

The logistics of playing the World Test Championship final in England are proving difficult, with the UK Government placing India on a COVID-19 ‘red list’.

A fresh coronavirus breakout in the Indian capital of Delhi has sparked a travel ban on arrivals into Great Britain, and although elite sportspeople and support staff hold exemptions, they must still serve a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved facility. 

With the entire Indian squad and several Blackcaps currently contesting the Indian Premier League, the ICC now faces a major headache over ensuring players from both sides are fully prepared for the test cricket showpiece at Southampton. 

Quarantine protocols prevent sports teams from training or competing while isolated, severely impacting the lead-up for both sides.

The IPL final is scheduled for June 18, leaving the Indian arrivals less than a week to  prepare for the inaugural test final.

The Guardian reports the match could potentially receive an exemption as an “event of national significance”, allowing some flexibility over logistics.

The Rose Bowl venue and its on-site hotel could be cleared for red-list arrivals and revert to the same biosecure set-up that enabled it to successfully stage international fixtures last season, along with Old Trafford and Derby.

The English Cricket Board has a 100 percent record at keeping players safe in bubbles. Both Pakistan and the West Indies toured England during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, with zero cases of coronavirus across the three sides.

The Blackcaps also have two tests scheduled against England from June 2, but NZ Cricket has already prepared for life without IPL stars, selecting an extended squad for the tour.

England have several high-profile stars in India. Jos Butter, Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes all ply their trade in the IPL, while star all-rounder Ben Stokes is on his way home, after suffering a broken finger. 

In a statement to Newshub, NZC says the situation is fluid. 

"NZC is working closely with the ECB and the ICC, and is confident that the World Test Championship will proceed as planned.

"With regard to the four New Zealand Test players currently involved in the IPL, and who will be travelling from India to England for the two test series ahead of the World Test Championship final, we are very much in the ECB and the UK Government’s hands.

"However, we note the ECB has an excellent track record in this matter after the successful hosting of four international sides in the previous northern hemisphere summer.

"The New Zealand-based test players will depart New Zealand in the middle of May bound for England."

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