Lockdown adds twist in Gabba Test furore

Rob Forsaith and Scott Bailey
·3-min read

Steve Smith says the Australia team will go where they're told for the fourth Test as Brisbane's hard lockdown failed to alter plans for the city to host the series finale.

A cleaner at a quarantine hotel in Brisbane testing positive for the highly-contagious UK variant of COVID-19 prompted the state government to place the entire city in a hard lockdown on Friday for at least three days.

There was already rampant speculation that India will refuse to travel to Brisbane for the final chapter of the four-Test series, wanting to avoid strict biosecurity protocols.

Cricket Australia were locked in talks with the Queensland government and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Friday, keen to maintain the current schedule.

"I don't think anything has changed," Smith said after play on Friday.

"That's not our decision to make. We're the players, we go where we're told.

"We'd love to play at the Gabba."

Queensland Cricket noted in a statement that grade cricket and other fixtures in Brisbane this weekend had been cancelled but the Gabba Test was not impacted.

Friday's announcement, when Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned "this is incredibly serious", won't affect the rules governing the Australia and India squads if they do land in Brisbane.

The restrictions placed on Brisbane residents during coming days will not be as tight as those confronting Test cricketers.

Nonetheless, the development will do little to ease angst within India's camp.

"Still positive talks at this stage," Palaszczuk said of the Gabba Test.

The Test is slated to start on January 15, meaning the prospect of a heaving crowd at the Gabba for the series finale is now essentially over.

Both squads are due to travel to Brisbane on Tuesday.

The Queensland government has indicated it will allow cricketers and support staff to mingle in communal areas of their hotel.

There will be exemptions to train and play but otherwise the touring parties will be confined to their hotel.

The same rules are in place during the current third Test stint in Sydney.

But the BCCI is worried about the Queensland government being in control of biosecurity protocols, rather than CA.

India great Sunil Gavaskar suggested the BCCI is not being unreasonable by wanting players to have more freedom.

"The Queensland government is fully entitled to protect its people. Similarly I believe the Board of Control for Cricket India is fully entitled to protect its team," Gavaskar said on Seven.

"What the Indian team really has been asking is to be treated the same as everybody else."

Queensland's border is shut to all of Sydney for at least the rest of this month, hence why players will be in quarantine.

An overnight report from Press Trust of India suggested a top BCCI executive had written to Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings, wanting a more relaxed quarantine for its players in Brisbane.

The Queensland government has adopted a hardline stance throughout the pandemic and, given Friday's development, there is almost no chance of any further concessions.