For now, shining the ball with saliva or sweat will be prohibited at training in Australia under the Level B and Level C rules outlined by the AIS. A move from the current Level A, which restricts cricketers to training on their own, to Level B is expected to be discussed at national cabinet on Friday, with a switch to Level C down the line. At Level B, training has restrictions, including the number of bowlers per net and on close warm-up drills. Level C permits “full training and competition”.
What the landscape might look like by the summer, and what decisions may have been made by the ICC by then, make for an uncertain future but Labuschagne said players had to accept long-term change if it came to it.
“The objective for everyone is to get back on the field, so whatever sacrifices or slight tweaks in the game that need to be made … for us as players, it’s about being adaptable and being able to abide by those new laws, if that is the case,” Labuschagne said.
“In terms of shining it, it will be slightly strange. When you’re on the field it’s so natural if you’re one of the ball shiners to get the ball and put a little bit of saliva on your finger and try to buff out some of the rough areas of the ball. If that doesn’t happen, then that’s the way it is. That’s just how we’re going to have to deal with this situation.”
Meanwhile, the Western Australian Cricket Association has contacted Cricket Australia about Perth potentially hosting multiple Tests between Australia and India from December, if they need to be played in a quarantined environment.
Adelaide Oval and its new $42 million hotel had already been mentioned as a candidate to be a quarantine centre for Virat Kohli’s touring team, but Perth is closer to India and in a more favourable time zone for Indian television. Western Australia, which has not had any new coronavirus cases for five days, also has two ICC-accredited venues – the WACA Ground and Optus Stadium – and apartments and hotels close to both.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Perth was seen as likely to miss out on hosting an Indian Test, and instead possibly stage a one-off Test between Australia and Afghanistan in November. Nothing is guaranteed now.
“I’ve sent an email [to CA] saying Perth is a good location for an Indian hub if that’s what you need,” WACA chief executive Christina Matthews told the Herald on Monday.
“We’re saying we’re available to play Test matches, to quarantine the players, to do all that sort of stuff.”
There is increasing confidence that the money-spinning Australia-India series will be staged, avoiding a financial disaster for CA. Colbeck said on Monday the men’s T20 World Cup was also still a realistic chance of being held in October and November.
“I’d love to see an Australia-India Test series this summer and I’d really like to see the World Cup go ahead,” he told SEN radio. “But that would be quite a complex protocol to bring that number of countries in from around the world.
“The issue is not so much the teams [and getting them into Australia]. It’s going to be the crowds. I think that’s probably one of the hurdles that we really have to consider and probably world cricket will look at pretty closely as well. We all know the difference in atmosphere when you see a filled stadium versus one that’s empty.”
Chris Barrett is Chief Sports Reporter of The Sydney Morning Herald.