Steve Smith’s lonely 129-day wait to see wife Dani finally expired on Thursday – but the New Year’s Eve rendezvous will be short-lived.
The Aussies will train at the MCG on January 2 and 3 before flying into coronavirus-hit Sydney on January 4 alone, leaving their families outside the biosecurity bubble for the risk-laden final two legs of the Test series.
Dani Smith has been cleared to enter Cricket Australia’s bubble in Melbourne so she can toast the start of 2021 with Australia’s best batsman more than four months after Smith flew to the UK to begin his bubble life.
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The Aussies and Indians will be faced with hard hotel quarantine measures once they arrive in Brisbane on a chartered flight from Sydney, but they won’t be confined to their rooms while in the Harbour City.
Players were briefed on their new restrictions on Wednesday night as they set about enjoying their final few days of relative freedom in Melbourne, with a group of Test stars enjoying a round of golf on Wednesday.
“We’ve got the outlook that the relative freedoms we’ve had so far this summer have been a bonus,” Pat Cummins said.
“You look around the world and to get tournaments up and running there have been super strict.
“Up until this point to be able to go outside and out for coffee or whatever. I’m lucky, I got a week or so at home (outside the bubble) during the T20s.
“But we do have some guys who haven’t seen their partners for four or five months, and now we’ll be locked in a hotel room.”
India can secure a swift passage out of Australia after the Gabba Test, with Queensland Health confirming the visitors will be free to depart the country from Brisbane less than 14 days after visiting coronavirus hotspot Sydney, so long as they meet overseas requirements.
India’s border control currently requires all passengers to test negative for COVID-19 within 24 hours of arrival, although it was unclear whether that applies to the BCCI.
But Queensland Health will prohibit Australia’s Test stars from exiting hotel quarantine in Brisbane until they have completed 14 days, which begins when they arrive from Sydney on January 12.
The exception is if, like India, the Aussies want to leave Queensland.
Then they will be at the mercy of whichever state they want to travel to, effectively meaning state governments will decide whether the likes of Tim Paine (Hurricanes), Travis Head (Strikers) and Mitchell Starc (Sixers) can light up the last week of the Big Bash League.
CA was hopeful that, despite Queensland’s stance, states would grant travel exemptions because they are satisfied that players coming from the biosecurity bubble are clean.
“Once the Test has finished it really depends on the conditions of the receiving jurisdictions,” chief executive Nick Hockley said. “Players will be free to leave Queensland provided there are no restrictions on their onward destination.
“In terms of our playing group, they’ve obviously been in that secure bubble. There will be players going on to the BBL, and we’ll be working with the relevant jurisdictions to make sure we get the necessary exemptions if there are still restrictions in place.
“We’ve worked very closely with governments right around the country to get this whole summer to happen. The strength and the robustness of our biosecurity protocols will give governments confidence in that regard.”
The final week of the BBL is scheduled for Sydney and Melbourne.