The Indian cricketers earned one of the most hard-fought cricketing draws in its illustrious history a couple of days back. After the debacle of Adelaide, the turnaround in fortunes in Melbourne and Sydney was a story straight out of some fairy tale. However, with the fourth and decisive Test starting in a day, another major controversy has erupted which could have been well and truly avoided by Cricket Australia.
After the heroics at the SCG, the Indian cricketers landed in Brisbane on Tuesday afternoon and checked into Sofitel, a five-star hotel located around four kilometres from the Gabba. According to a TOI report, the team and the management described the hotel as “a good one” but “a prison for all practical purposes”, soon after landing there.
Furthermore, according to media reports, the Indian cricketers are being made to clean up their own rooms, toilets and not even allowed to access the hotel pools, gym and restaurants to relax after playing some gruelling and tough cricket for the majority of the tour down under. The housekeeping and room keeping services have been missing and players are forced to order their food from outside, thereby risking themselves getting infected with the virus.
“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.” one of the members was quoted as saying to TOI.
Brisbane is a zero-COVID zone. While the Indian cricketers do not want to venture out, the team is wondering how a side struggling with so many injuries can recover when basic facilities like the pool and gym are not allowed.
“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?” said the Indian cricketers, while talking about the developments.
Before the SCG Test began, there were rumours that the Indian cricketers were hesitant to travel to Brisbane due to the COVID-19 protocols and the lack of basic amenities. The Australian media had lapped on to the unsubstantiated reports and tried to project that the Indian team was scared to play at Gabba which has been Australia’s fortress since 1988. However, by the looks of current developments, it seems like the Indian team management was right in having their reservations to travel to Brisbane.
After the controversy started boiling up, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah got in touch with CA officials to ease the situation for Indian cricketers in Brisbane. After a subtle side-eye given by BCCI to CA, the hosts finally agreed to allow access to the swimming pool, gym, as well as, the hotel lifts to the Indian cricketers.
The indian cricket team has now been allowed to use the lift. They can have access to swimming pool and gym. The food ordered is kept in team room which has a large dining area. The @BCCI brass are confident that housekeeping facilities will be in order from today.#INDvsAUSTest
— Kushan Sarkar (@kushansarkar) January 13, 2021
And those saying that the Indian cricketers are throwing tantrums should understand the toll a 5-day game takes on the bodies. Sure, they are being paid handsomely and allowed to pursue what they love during these testing times, but surely if it was the BCCI instead of Cricket Australia, the Australian players would have been given top of the line treatment, COVID-19 or not. CA could have kept a separate hotel staff for the Team when there were apprehensions by the Indian Team before their check-in.
The racial abuse controversy, as well as, the potty mouth commentary of Australia’s Captain Tim Paine and the scuffing of guard by Steve Smith, added with the Hotel controversy has taken some sheen away from the Test series which otherwise has been hard-fought and absolute top-drawer in quality.