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BBL clubs face juggling act around quarantined England players

A significant number of the England players signed for the BBL are unlikely to be available to their clubs until after Christmas due to quarantine requirements following their tour of South Africa.

Jason Roy and Liam Livingstone (Perth Scorchers), Dawid Malan (Hobart Hurricanes), Tom Curran (Sydney Sixers) and Tom Banton and Lewis Gregory (Brisbane Heat) were all named in the squads for the limited-overs trip to South Africa.

However, Malan was only included in the T20 group so it may be possible for him to leave the tour ahead of the others.

The final match of the series will be played on December 9, so depending on flight timings and the route taken they would be likely to arrive in Australia on December 11 when they would start their 14 days of hotel quarantine.

The BBL fixtures confirmed on Thursday have all the teams playing three matches before Christmas, except the Hobart Hurricanes who will play four in Tasmania in that period.

It would appear the earliest that players arriving from South Africa would be able to play would be Boxing Day, but with them unable to practice or train outside during their quarantine (under current regulations they will only have access to gym equipment provided in their rooms) that may be too short of a turnaround for them to be ready.

The ECB is also able to hold back a contracted player from playing too soon after quarantine, as they did with Katherine Brunt in the WBBL for the Melbourne Stars, to reduce the risk of injury.

A number of other English players not involved in the South Africa tour have been linked as replacements, including Will Jacks, Dan Lawrence and Joe Clarke as reported by ESPNcricinfo.

“It’s been on the radar for a while, since that tour was earmarked, so our clubs have been planning around that,” Alistair Dobson, the head of the BBL, said. “Whether they are able to bring in another international for that specific window, it’s probably not as easy as a normal year.

“Our clubs are expert list managers and have been planning for some of those players to not be available in that early window. We are also working really hard to make sure we can get those players from that tour into the BBL as quickly as possible.”

Dobson added that the league was “hands on” in helping organise travel arrangements and that a chartered flight from South Africa was a possibility depending on the commercial options available.

“We had great success with the WBBL [and we are] working really hard with relevant government authorities and the Australian Border Force to get overseas players in,” he said. “We are on track, but at the same time the landscape changes pretty regularly.”

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Australia head coach Justin Langer speaks about the importance of player welfare during these times

Most overseas players arriving into Australia for the tournament will have to quarantine, but currently it is only the England names that are impacted by a tour beforehand. Imran Tahir, the South Africa legspinner who has signed with Melbourne Renegades, retired from ODIs after the 2019 World Cup and while he never officially did the same in T20Is has not played since March 2019.

There has been talk of making use of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble that exists between New Zealand and some states in Australia to bring in West Indies players who will be touring there without the need to quarantine although currently none of them have signed.

However, the Sydney Thunder have signed New Zealand quick Adam Milne who may be able to take advantage of the arrangement.

The tournament is likely to be without a number of big-name Australian players throughout. Earlier this week Steven Smith ruled out taking part due to the demands of moving from one bubble to another while it is expected that David Warner, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc will also sit out the BBL.

However, it is hoped that Australia’s limited-overs players who will be involved in the ODIs and T20Is against India – including those who have come from the IPL – would be available for the start of the BBL and with various restrictions loosening around the country players may be able to have more freedom rather than being in a tight bubble.

“We are certainly hoping they can get into the BBL and play those first few games,” Dobson said. “We are working closely with the national team division as to how we make that as logistically smooth as possible.”

“One thing we are working really hard on is that as the competition moves across the country, where medical and safety advice allows we want to give the players as many freedoms to enjoy the local environment [as we can].

“The way things are trending at the moment we’d like to make sure it can feel as much like a normal BBL for the players as possible, albeit a different travel pattern. That said it’s incumbent on the league and CA to make sure players and the public are as safe as possible.”

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