With the Indian Premier League set to resume in the UAE from September 19th, the BCCI have announced a few rule changes, given the Covid situation around the around.
After having to pause and shift the tournament out of the country, the BCCI hopes that the regulations laid down will help see a hassle-free tournament, much like the 2020 edition.
Change of Ball
One of the biggest rule changes the BCCI has announced in the 46-page health advisory is that if the ball does go into the stands, the ball will be replaced, and the play will continue with a new ball. The old ball, once found, will be sanitized and placed with match officials.
This rule is coming into play with the likelihood that BCCI and Emirates Cricket Board will be allowing spectators for the games. The possibility of the fans touching the balls and throwing them back to the players, especially if someone is infected with the virus in the stands, is a chance the two boards do not want to take.
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As stated during the 2020 edition, the ban on the use of saliva by the players to shine the ball continues.
Although the players will get a warning during the first instance of a player applying saliva on the ball, the team will subsequently receive a 5-run penalty, where 5 runs will be added to the batting team.
A Stern Bubble
The BCCI has also reiterated the importance of the bio bubble and laid down the fact that there will be consequences if anyone is found breaching these bubbles. As per the rules, all teams will have to quarantine for six days before being able to enter the bio-bubble. This time, there will be 14 bubbles, eight of which will belong to the franchises, three to the match officials and management staff, and three to the broadcast commentators and crew.
The BCCI also stated that, upon arrival in the UAE, all members must undergo three RT-PCR tests (day two, four, and six) before going ahead with any training activities. If all three tests are negative, the players can commence with training, etc. And these tests aren’t only taking place in the UAE; players also have to show a negative test in India, which has to be at least 72 hours before their departure. If the test is negative, then the players can go ahead with travel.
If a player does test positive for Covid, the player and those in contact with him will need to isolate for a minimum of 10 days. He will undergo two RT-PCR tests on the ninth day and tenth day, and if both are negative, he shall be allowed back into the bubble.
Given that the Indian edition of the IPL saw bubble breaches that led to multiple cases inside the franchises, the BCCI is taking extreme measures to ensure no slip up this time around.
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Bubble to Bubble
Players, staff, and broadcast crew members who will travel to the UAE from either England vs. India series, Sri Lanka vs. South Africa series, or the Caribbean Premier League can head directly into the bubble without serving the mandatory quarantine period.
Once the tournament gets underway, all personnel inside the bubble will be tested twice weekly and after the second week, every five days till the end of the tournament.
The BCCI have also announced that they will be doing away with the Bluetooth-enabled contact bands initially designed to trace contacts of a positive person. Due to unreliability and malfunctioning, the BCCI have decided not to carry forward with this. The responsibility now falls on the bubble integrity officers to trace the individuals in case of a positive case.
– All franchise team members must undergo a COVID-19 RT-PCR test, 72 hours before their scheduled flight to the UAE.
– For passengers arriving from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, it is mandatory that the COVID-19 PCR report includes a QR code linked to the original report for the verification process in the UAE.
– In unavoidable circumstances, franchise team members and their families can leave the bubble. However, prior permission must be sought from the BCCI Chief Medical Officer for unscheduled visits before leaving the bubble.
– Re-entry to the bubble will only be permitted after completing six full days of quarantine. For re-entry, all three results of the RT-PCR tests for samples collected on days 2, 4, and 6 should be negative. Green corridors will be created to avoid close contact with individuals outside their Bio-Secure Bubbles if, in exceptional circumstances, members within a bubble are required to visit a hospital, etc.
– Contact tracing bands to be done away with. Instead, the bio-bubble integrity officers will be responsible for tracking each Covid positive contact.
With the T20 World Cup to be held later this year, which the BCCI will also host, the Indian board will be looking at the IPL as a dress rehearsal to hold a major ICC event during the pandemic.