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Australia vs India – Tim Paine, Marnus Labuschagne in mass airlift to avert summer disruption

A mass airlift of Australia, Australia A and Big Bash League players into New South Wales has been successfully completed to avoid Cricket Australia having its summer plans severely disrupted by border restrictions imposed on South Australia due to a developing Covid-19 outbreak in the state.

While the number of new cases in SA dipped promisingly to five on Tuesday after 14 on Monday that were traced to an outbreak in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, CA and the BBL clubs moved rapidly to ensure all players left the affected state and also Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania after all three state governments imposed quarantine restrictions on SA.

These moves, including a charter flight specifically to transport all players and staff from the Adelaide Strikers to a training camp in Coffs Harbour, will allow for Australia players to prepare freely for the looming white-ball series against India, plus Australia A players preparing for warm-up games against Virat Kohli’s touring side and also the Strikers and other SA-based BBL players ahead the tournament’s scheduled early-December start in Hobart.

This meant rushed farewells to family and friends for the likes of Test captain Tim Paine, Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head and Cameron Green, but ensured smooth progression of the summer even if the SA outbreak continues to grow. SA’s border remains open to NSW and Victoria, and CA maintains that Adelaide Oval will host the first Test of the summer against India from December 17 onwards.

“CA has taken a proactive approach and mobilised a number of people across the country over the past 24 hours to shore up our men’s domestic and international schedules,” CA’s interim chief executive Nick Hockley said. “I would like to thank the players and staff for their understanding regarding the changes to their travel schedules and for their commitment to ensuring the summer of cricket is a huge success.

“I would also like to thank the various leadership groups across Australian cricket for coming together over the past 48 hours and taking quick, decisive action – made possible by thorough, cross-department contingency planning. CA will continue to monitor the situation in South Australia and the resulting border restrictions around the country.

“As ever, we will remain agile in addressing the challenges presented by the pandemic and remain more confident than ever of hosting a safe and successful summer across all formats.”

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