The BCCI are reportedly looking at the prospect of sending a large Indian squad for the tour of Australia in December, with the selectors said to be mulling sending close to 25 members as a part of the touring party. It is believed that multiple members might reach Australia by the end of October.
The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic has meant that teams have been forced to play their cricket exclusively inside secure bio-bubbles, but the virus has also had implications on the way boards select their teams. The introduction of bio-bubbles restricts the entry of any new personnel into the secure environment and, as a result, teams are required to shortlist a group of players who are the only ones eligible to be drafted into the main XI.
This is a headache specifically for the touring teams, who, as a result of these stringent rules, are often forced to carry over 20 members to the touring country. After West Indies and Pakistan, it now looks like team India, too, might take the same route and carry an extended squad to Australia.
“It is only logical that at least 23 to 25 players are carried just like Pakistan and West Indies did in England,” a BCCI official told PTI.
“There is no need to call net bowlers from outside and if the players from India A squad also goes, it would help us in having a proper four-day first-class match simulation in bio-bubble.”
The four-Test series is scheduled to kick-off on December 3, but it is believed that a set of Indian players and staff might very well reach the shores of Australia as early as October. The board are reportedly said to be pondering over the possibility of flying a group of players and staff, who have no play-off commitments in the IPL, directly from the UAE to Australia, with the rest joining their teammates towards the end of November post the conclusion of the IPL. A definitive plan regarding the same is, however, yet to be finalized.
The squad for the Australia tour is also expected to be named by the three outgoing selectors, Devang Gandhi, Jatin Paranjape and Sarandeep Singh, whose term is set to come to an end on September 30. The CAC committee headed by Madan Lal was expected to interview candidates and appoint new sets of selectors, but a BCCI official confirmed that the Covid-19 pandemic put all plans in disarray. The official also spoke highly of the knowledge of the three incumbents, whose term will come to a conclusion towards the end of the month.
“Yes, the CAC hasn’t been sent any intimation as of now. Obviously, the COVID-19 lockdown has put all plans in disarray and now, the focus is on IPL. Also there is no domestic cricket being held at the moment,” said a senior BCCI official.
“If you look, MSK Prasad and Gagan Khoda were replaced in March, 2020 and not September, 2019. There is absolutely no harm if Devang, Jatin and Sarandeep help out Sunil and Harvinder for Australia series and may be the England series. They have covered domestic cricket extensively and they have a fair idea about bench strength.”