MUMBAI: On one leg and a prayer, the Indian team landed in Brisbane on Tuesday afternoon and checked into Sofitel, a five-star hotel located around four kilometres from the Gabba.
The contingent described the hotel as “a good one” but “a prison for all practical purposes”, soon after landing there.
“We are locked up in our rooms, have to make our own beds, clean our own toilets. Food is coming from a nearby Indian restaurant which will be given to us on our floor. We can’t move out of the floor that’s been designated to us. The entire hotel is empty, but we can’t use any amenities in the hotel including the swimming pool and the gym. All the cafes and restaurants in the hotel are shut,” is how members of the traveling Indian contingent described the hotel premises and the hassles associated with it.
Brisbane, at the moment, is a zero-Covid zone. However, the Indian team – which is there to play a Test match – is clear it does not want to venture out anywhere.
“But how is a team – struggling with injuries – expected to recover if basic amenities like pool and gym are not allowed? There’s no other guest in the hotel. It’s empty. Then why can’t the players use the amenities,” they added, describing the scenario as “pathetic”.
The Indian team management, one that has let go of all the angst caused during the Sydney Test and said, “cricket has to go on,” is not at all pleased with the treatment being meted out in Brisbane and has conveyed the same to BCCI and its operations team.
“What was promised, by way of facilities, and what’s being provided here are two diametrically opposite things. A lot of things were said earlier during this tour – like, once the mandatory quarantine is over, the players will be comfortable, will be given the necessary amenities etc. And now we’re being asked to make our own beds and clean our own toilets. Is that how BCCI treats these (Aussie) players when they come to India?” say those tracking developments.
A “weak BCCI” – led by president Sourav Ganguly, who is very well aware of what it takes to be on a tour of Australia – hasn’t been able to see the team’s point of view yet.
“They’ve tested us some 15 to 20 times (swab tests) ever since we’ve arrived here (in November). So much so that the nostrils have flared up. Yesterday we were tested. Two days before that we were tested. A week ago, we were tested. It’s got to the point that it’s nauseating,” say those going through the rigmarole.
The Indian team and the management has conveyed to BCCI that it should either be allowed to use the amenities at the hotel and given certain facilities – which has been shared with Cricket Australia (CA) and their Indian counterparts – or be put on a flight back to India at the earliest.
The BCCI, for its part, appears clueless and senior members of the board – who are enquiring about their players – have no idea what Ganguly & Co. are up to.
“Look at the state of the team. It’s like a hospital ward. And then we expect them to come back and play a full-fledged series against England, then play the IPL, then head to England for a five-Test series, then play the T20 World Cup. Are they humans or machines?” BCCI members say.