The Indian cricket board (BCCI) is learned to be miffed with coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli for attending a public event in London last week, according to BCCI sources.
Shastri tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, while bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar, who were identified as close contacts on Sunday, returned positive tests on Monday. Team physio Nitin Patel continues to be in isolation.
Shastri, Kohli and other members of the touring team were part of a book launch at a hotel last Tuesday where the event room was packed with people.
Shastri and Kohli had shared the stage during the event. BCCI sources revealed that the Indian team had not sought proper clearance from the board before attending the event.
The big bio-bubble breach raises questions about the conduct of the support staff, especially coach Ravi Shastri. A guide and mentor, he must not just follow the rules but lead by example which doesn’t seem to have happened. One only hopes that the breach doesn’t affect the players and jeopardise India’s chances in the final Test.
Now, stricter bio-bubble in Manchester awaits India
“Photos from the event have been shared with BCCI officials. The board will probe the matter. This incident has left the board embarrassed. The coach and the captain will be asked to explain the circumstances after the fourth Test at Oval. The team’s administrative manager Girish Dongre’s role is also under the scanner,” a top BCCI official told TOI on Monday.
According to British media reports, the Indian team had not sought clearance from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) either. “The BCCI is in touch with ECB and trying to ensure the series is completed without any further incidents. As of now, everyone is hoping that Shastri recovers soon. There is a selection meeting for the T20 World Cup on Wednesday. Maybe the matter will be raised there,” the official said.
Members of the touring party are allowed to go for walk-arounds in places where there’s no rush. The participation in a crowded event has left the two boards bemused.
“This wasn’t an official event that either of the boards had organised. This incident is all the more unsettling because BCCI secretary Jay Shah had written to every team member before the series, asking them to be cautious and refrain from attending crowded events. The action of the team hasn’t gone down well with the board,” the official said.
Of course, it cannot be said with certainty that Shastri fell sick only because he attended the event. The lift in the team hotel which the team uses is also used by other guests. However, the board feels the event could have been skipped.
Every member of the team was tested on Sunday. The results were awaited till Monday afternoon. The infected support staff will not accompany the team to Manchester for the fifth Test which starts on Sept 10.
The two teams will enter a stricter bubble in Manchester. “There will be a proper bubble in Manchester. There’s the IPL coming up in UAE five days after the fifth Test finishes. The players will have to move in a bubble to UAE, else they will have to serve quarantine period upon reaching Dubai. Hopefully, there won’t be any further incidents once the team enters the bubble,” the official said.