West Indies squad break bubble in New Zealand
The West Indies cricket squad in New Zealand had their training privileges stripped by local health authorities after repeated violations of the isolation rules put in place at the team's hotel as part of a mandatory 14-day quarantine in Christchurch, which require the squad to stay in two separate bubbles.
The director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said the breaches all occurred within the hotel where the team is based during the quarantine period and there was no risk to the general public. "Members of the team were confirmed to have repeatedly broken managed isolation rules," Bloomfield said in a statement. "Many of these incidents have been captured on CCTV and have also been reported by staff. The incidents include groups mingling and sharing food."
Bloomfield clarified that a special dispensation that was put in place to allow the West Indians to train during quarantine had been revoked, stating, "It is a privilege to come here but in return, they have to stick to the rules."
"They've let themselves down, let West Indies cricket down and potentially put the tour at risk and the New Zealand population at risk," said Cricket West Indies chief Johnny Grave during a conference call, who was "bitterly disappointed" about the breaches.
Commenting on the training ban, Grave said it was a "huge blow" but he supported the decision, acknowledging New Zealand's efforts to contain the global virus to a point where life in the country has been close to normal.
Grave, however, was surprised about his players' failure to abide by the rules, citing similar bio-secure bubbles during their England tour as well as during the recently-concluded Caribbean Premier League 2020, and revealed that Cricket West Indies will be carrying out an internal investigation where all players will be interviewed. The health department of New Zealand will supply evidence in the probe and leave any disciplinary action against individual players at the governing body's discretion.
For their part, New Zealand Cricket will be supporting the health department's position, keeping public safety the main priority when hosting overseas teams and said that the West Indies team were in their 12th day of isolation and should all players remain virus-free, they will head for Queenstown on Friday for the warm-up matches against New Zealand A. With everything staying to plan, the first of three Twenty20 International matches against the Black Caps will get underway for November 27 at Eden Park, followed by two Tests.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Michael Steele