Aussie cricket can finally exhale, after Virat Kohli led his Indian teammates off the plane at Sydney airport to officially save the $300 million summer.
While most considered it a formality that the Indians would tour, cricket officials have had to jump through a mountain of hoops to get the world’s highest profile team into the country and their arrival means the bumper international season should be able to start without incident later this month.
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Aussie superstars David Warner, Steve Smith and Pat Cummins joined India as the other bubble boys hitting town, returning from the IPL to also begin their two-week quarantine period in the same Sydney Olympic Park hotel as the Indians.
Kohli will spend more time in the Olympic precinct than many Olympians did when they visited Sydney 20 years ago, with the athletes only permitted to leave their individual rooms for designated training sessions which are expected to take place at another bio-secure venue at Blacktown International Sports Park.
Unlike the last time he was here two years ago, Kohli was not accompanied by his wife Anushka Sharma.
She is now heavily pregnant and heading home from Dubai to India to prepare for the arrival of the couple’s first child, which will take Kohli away from Australia after the end of the limited overs series and first Test.
Only a limited number of Indian family members were allowed into the country by the Australian Government.
The likes of Warner, Smith, Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood and Glenn Maxwell have been overseas since late August and desperate for the quarantine to be over so they can see their wives, partners, and in Warner’s case – his young girls.
King Kohli gets royal quarantine treatment
Virat Kohli could be about to spend his next two weeks of Australian quarantine in Brad Fittler’s penthouse suite.
Following Wednesday night’s State of Origin, the NSW Blues are due to check out of their Pullman Hotel home base at Sydney Olympic Park on Thursday morning, at which time the facility will be immediately locked down for the arrival of Kohli’s Team India.
The Indians and Australia’s IPL superstars, including David Warner, Steve Smith, Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa, are due to touch down in Sydney on their private jet in the late afternoon on Thursday.
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They’ll then get a police escort from the airport, down Parramatta Road straight to the Pullman, where they’ll spend every waking moment over the next two weeks – with the exception of scheduled training sessions – confined to their rooms.
The hotel will be completely locked down to the public, with no other guests staying except the cricketers.
Fittler was Zampa’s sporting hero, but King Kohli will be getting the pick of the rooms, and given the tight turnaround – will be hoping the bio-security deep clean the hotel will undertake on Thursday manages to get rid of any deep heat and strapping tape left over from Origin II.
“We work within each sporting organisation’s code, to their rules and environment, and within government regulations to deliver COVID-safe world-class accommodation solutions,” said the CEO of Accor Pacific, which runs the Pullman, Simon McGrath.
“Over time we have built specific intellectual property that allows us to construct taskforces which rapidly deploy teams to put together safe precincts to facilitate the success of Australian sporting events.”
Indian and Australian cricketers will be permitted to train out at Blacktown International Sports Park during their quarantine.
There was a timely lesson for players about the strictness of quarantine on Thursday, with the New Zealand Government banning the West Indies from training anymore after players were busted compromising the bio-security bubble by sharing food and socialising in hallways of their Christchurch hotel.
NSW Health also demands the families of Indian players flying in to Sydney with the team to adhere to the bio-security arrangements.
Across the road from the Pullman, is the WBBL bubble set up at the Novotel Hotel.
Cricket Australia has set up video game, table tennis and basketball facilities for their girls, but Indian and Australian stars will be confined to their rooms as they are flying back in from overseas.
Australia’s ODI series against India begins the day after the players are released from quarantine, with Australia’s non-IPL players to enter camp on November 22 and train separately on the outside, although within their own bubble.