Former New Zealand cricketer and Mumbai Indians fielding coach James Pamment has revealed the details of the events after COVID-19 cases emerged within the bubble in IPL 2021. Last Tuesday, the BCCI suspended the tournament indefinitely due to a handful of cases reported across four franchises. James Pamment underlined that Australia and New Zealand cricketers were a little more apprehensive owing to the outbreak.
Australian cricketers particularly had a reason to be worried since their Prime Minister Scott Morrison had banned all Indian flights to their nation till at least the 15th of May. Morrison initially announced that no Charted flights would be made available for the cricketers and they have to make their own provisions for returning. But after banning all flights from India, he said that anyone coming back to Australia would face strict punishment.
James Pamment, who had been in India since January, said that they resided in a Mumbai hotel and felt as long as everyone maintained discipline, they had to isolate for two weeks before working. Pamment also revealed that with COVID-19 tests taking place regularly, it was safe being within the bubble, feeling confident everybody around would be fine.
“We’d pretty much taken over a hotel in Mumbai and created a safe space – I think I was the first person in there. You felt as long as everyone was disciplined and people weren’t tempted … staff were also part of the bubble, they had to isolate for a two-week period before working and we were getting regular tests, so you felt it was an extremely safe bubble being formed. You did feel confident you’d be fine, and everybody around you would be fine,” Pamment said as quoted by Stuff.co.nz.
We felt the travel was always going to be a challenge: James Pamment
James Pamment also revealed he felt travel was going to be an issue and recollected one of their staff members caught the virus, resulting him going in isolation and the rest of the members too. The 52-year old recalled thinking that the bubble is not fool-proof and started being more vigilant than usual.
“We felt the travel was always going to be a challenge. We had a case ourselves on our first travel when we went to Chennai to prepare for the start of the tournament – it was a support staff member, fortunately, picked up very quickly and he was isolated, and none of the people considered close contacts to him were infected. But it was a very early reminder that your bubble’s not impenetrable. We probably got even stricter around how we operated,” he added.
The former Kiwi cricketer also explained how they all had to review their travel plans at the last minute with the tournament postponed and knowing they were coming back.
“Some of the senior Indian guys don’t like being restricted and told what to do, but we did feel safe – at no point did we feel the bubble would be compromised, the challenge was the travel. We all had MIQ vouchers booked for June, so as soon as we knew we were coming back, we jumped online individually to get the vouchers. “The plane was initially booked for three people – myself, Shane Bond and Adam Milne – because Trent’s plans were to go to England, Jimmy Neesham’s plans were to go to England. RCB [Royal Challengers Bangalore] hadn’t had any cases and the Mumbai management were happy to consider them coming back with us as well,” the English-born Black Caps player stated.