It is Australian cricket’s $300 million question – and one of India’s most senior cricket officials has gone some way towards answering it by confirming for the first time the willingness of Virat Kohli and his men to fly out and go into quarantine for a Test and one-day series against Australia.
Arun Dhumal, the treasurer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, told it is “difficult” to see Australia’s first men’s Twenty20 World Cup going ahead on schedule in October. But the outlook of the sport’s powerhouse toward a bilateral series that stands to make or break Cricket Australia is far more promising.
Dhumal said it was too early for a call on whether the Test series will be extended from four to five matches as CA has floated with the BCCI, but in the first public comments from an Indian official about the Australian tour he left little doubt that Kohli’s team were prepared to enter isolation here for a fortnight and accept whatever other biosecurity security measures are demanded.
“There is no choice – everyone will have to do that. You would want to resume the cricket,” he said.
“Two weeks is not that long a lockdown. That would be ideal for any sportsman because when you are in quarantine for such a long period, then going to another country and having a two-week lockdown it would be a good thing to do. We’ll have to see what the norms are post this lockdown.”
While Australian cricket has found itself in a period of turmoil in recent weeks amid claims and counter claims over the level of cash it has remaining, with staff stood down and laid off, its future health more or less revolves around the arrival of Kohli’s India for four scheduled Tests and three one-day internationals from December.
That largely boils down to two factors: the securing of a travel exemption for the tourists and the desire of the star-studded Indians to fly out and spend two weeks or possibly longer in a quarantine hub.
While months away, the travel clearance looks increasingly likely by the day given the confidence expressed by Sports Minister Richard Colbeck and with rugby league’s New Zealand Warriors already granted one. The commitment to tour in the circumstances from one of the BCCI’s leading officials will also be music to the ears of Australian cricket executives.
India has not shut the door on playing five Tests but Dhumal indicated the two teams may be better off playing additional limited-overs games this summer instead because they generated more money from Indian television.
“Once we are sure when cricket will resume, then only will we be able to make a final call on that,” he said.