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Sep 28, 2020

Bangladesh tour postponed over quarantine disagreement

Bangladesh's three-Test tour of Sri Lanka has been postponed yet again following a stalemate between the BCB and the SLC over quarantine requirements, with weeks of negotiation failing to yield an agreement between the two boards.


The length of the quarantine, which the Sri Lankan health authorities had insisted be 14 days, with the players' movement strictly limited to their hotel rooms, was the main proposal the Bangladesh board refused to agree with.

BCB president Nazmul Hassan said on Monday that the tour was not cancelled yet but this one crucial disagreement between the two boards forced them into asking the SLC to reschedule the tour, the first Test of which was supposed to start on October 23 in Pallekele.

"Any tourist who is entering Sri Lanka has to abide by this rule [of 14 days in quarantine]," Hassan said. "They [the SLC] have told us that they couldn't do anything about this point [about 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.""

The Sri Lankan health authorities' insistence on a 14-day quarantine was partly because Covid-19 is understood to be spreading in Bangladesh, and some high-profile members of the potential squad had also tested positive for the virus. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, has had minimal 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 the BCB had at one point asked for a three-day quarantine, which the official described as "ridiculous".

Hassan said that the BCB also needed to understand the Sri Lankan version of the term "quarantine" which, according to him, differed from what the Bangladesh board thought it was. He said staying confined within a room for 14 days was likely to take a toll on a player's mental and physical well-being ahead of a three-match Test series.

"There's a difference between 'quarantine' and 'isolation'," Hassan said. "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."

Two weeks ago, Hassan had said that Bangladesh won't go ahead with the tour if the 14-day quarantine was put in place. Soon afterwards, Sri Lanka's sports minister Namal Rajapaksa had said that he asked the SLC to consult with the country's Covid-19 task force to reconsider the matter. The SLC then proposed to their health authorities that the Bangladesh touring party do the two-week quarantine split between the two countries, but it wasn't agreed upon.

The tour, comprising three World Test Championship Tests, was originally announced last month. The BCB had said at the time that its High Performance side will accompany the senior team, considering the former's tour of Sri Lanka, too, had been previously postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The High Performance players were also expected to help the senior team train in the first couple of weeks.

A proposed tour schedule was also drawn up which stated that the visitors would be able to start training a day after arriving in Sri Lanka with the first two Tests to be held in Pallekele and the third Test in Colombo.

But proceedings took a turn earlier this month when the Sri Lankan health authorities insisted that the visitors must quarantine in their hotel room for 14 days, before they can begin training in isolation. The BCB, however, went ahead with its planning and announced a 27-member preliminary squad that began training last week, with all the players, coaching and support staff put in isolation in a city hotel till Saturday.

(espncricinfo.com)

(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by espncricinfo.com has not been edited by SLM staff)

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