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Cricket news - Bangladesh's tour back on track after SLC relaxes quarantine norms

Cricketers will now be allowed to practice even during the opening week of their arrival as per the new plan.

Cricketers will now be allowed to practice even during the opening week of their arrival as per the new plan.

Bangladesh's proposed three-match Test series in Sri Lanka is likely to proceed as per plan after Sri Lanka Cricket changed their stance on the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Cricbuzz had earlier reported that the tour is unlikely to proceed after SLC informed BCB verbally that the tourists will have to complete their 14-day quarantine locked up indoors, with no provision for training. BCB, on their part, then notified they're not willing to tour if the quarantine period is not changed.

Following BCB's clear stance, SLC officials are busy preparing a bio-safety plan that would satisfy their Bangladesh counterparts so that the tour can go ahead as planned.

On Tuesday, SLC officials were involved in series of meetings with their concerned authorities in the government that involved Sri Lanka's head of national operation centre for prevention of COVID-19 outbreak (NOCPCO) Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, chief of defense staff and commander of the army at the army headquarters.

SLC team, led by its president Shammi Silva, took the initiative as part of the consultative process and according to official Sri Lanka Army social media page both parties discussed the possibilities of conducting both events (the Bangladesh series as well as the Lanka Premier League that follows) as well as prioritizing highest standards of health while showing to the international community that they have been near successful in controlling the COVID-19 epidemic.

While the SLC has provided the COVID-19 task force with the blueprint of the protocol concerning the upcoming series, it was learnt that they had further rounds of discussion with their health authorities regarding the revised bio-safety plan that is expected to meet major parts of BCB's terms and conditions.

SLC is learnt to have now opted for a split, two-country quarantine for the Bangladesh team - a week at home and another week on arrival in the island country - in its latest attempt to convince Sri Lanka's health ministry to allow the tour to go ahead next month.

Cricbuzz understands that SLC had prepared a new bio-safety plan where they have mentioned that they are willing to allow the tourists the provision for training and preparation from the eighth day, while for the first week they will be isolated in the hotel.

Unlike the initial plan, which said that the cricketers will not be allowed to come out of the hotel room while the team meetings have to be completed through Zoom in the new bio-safety plan, cricketers will now be allowed to practice even during the opening week of their arrival but have to make sure they maintain social distancing as they will be isolated and only can start full-fledged practice after completing seven days in the island.

According to the new plan, the visitors are expected to stay in Hambantota during the preparation phase while they will be shifted to Kandy only after the practice game against Sri Lanka A team, scheduled from October 18-20.

It was learnt that the SLC have also decided to increase the members of the touring party, but they are not willing to host the High Performance Unit as well along with its national team. Bangladesh were planning to include the HP squad as they were planning to play some intra-squad matches. But they'll now have to agree to a squad of 35 to 41 members.

BCB officials confirmed to Cricbuzz on Wednesday that they have learnt about the new developments, however their only reservation now is regarding staying in Hambantota as the ground is 45 kilometers away from the hotel. "We have heard about such development but we will propose them to accommodate us either in Galle or Dambulla," said the official.

The opening two Test matches will be played in Kandy while the last Test of the series is expected to be played in Colombo.

Bangladesh's tour of Sri Lanka, which was scheduled for July-August, was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They're now expected to travel to Sri Lanka on September 27, with the first of the three games beginning on October 23. BCB is planning a week-long residential camp ahead of the tour, starting September 21.

As part of the preparations, BCB have already called up the national cricketers from different districts and divisions so that they can join the training camp at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, in Dhaka. "Players and team management staff will undergo COVID-19 tests on September 18 (for those stationed in Dhaka) and September 19 (for those who are arriving in Dhaka from other divisions/districts)," said BCB in a statement on Wednesday. "Training (of the national team) will resume in Dhaka only on 20 September," it added.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh's top-order batsman Saif Hassan has tested positive for coronavirus for the second time in seven days' time and can only make it to the touring party if he recovers in time. On the other hand, Bangladesh's strength and conditioning coach Nick Lee has tested negative for COVID-19, having earlier reported a positive test.

Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo, along with other foreign coaches, joined the ongoing individual and small-group practice sessions at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium on September 13 after all of them underwent home quarantine for a week.

BCB has requested the government to shorten their quarantine period due to the upcoming international assignment, and the government has approved their plea which enabled them to take the field after a week instead of the mandatory 14-day quarantine for travellers.

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