It was the 30th of December 2021 when the first Big Bash League (BBL) game this season got affected by the COVID-19 virus. Melbourne Stars were scheduled to play Perth Scorchers but a positive case in the Stars camp forced the game to be postponed.
It’s been a week since that day and the BBL has constantly been wrecked by COVID-19. Matches are being postponed, rescheduled, pushed, and preponed constantly with only a few hours before the scheduled start. There are teams who’ve had to rejig their entire squad. The BBL has had to come up with a pool of common replacements, such has been the impact that the deadly virus has had on the league.
Melbourne Stars have had at least 12 confirmed positive cases in their camp which includes skipper Glenn Maxwell. Despite that, they’ve had to play two games, both of which they lost by significant margins and it has pushed them down to the bottom of the points table. Quite a few of their games have been pushed or postponed.
Sydney Thunder had a handful of cases as well but their games haven’t been postponed or cancelled yet. Brisbane Heat had to change their entire squad and field as many as 10 new players in their game against Melbourne Renegades. As many as 12 players alongside a coach were down with the COVID-19 virus. Their fixture against Sydney Sixers was postponed twice, out of which Perth Scorchers preponed their encounter against the Sydney Sixers and filled in once.
As far as the Hobart Hurricanes are concerned, they have just one confirmed case but a couple of close contacts meant that their bowling attack has been reduced big time. Moreover, injuries have plagued them as well which has played a big part in that thin bowling line-up. Now, the latest has emerged that four Sydney Sixers players have also tested positive as well. The camps of Adelaide Strikers and Perth Scorchers have also been hit by COVID as per the latest reports. Melbourne Renegades also have one confirmed positive COVID-19 case.
Match 39 which was supposed to see Adelaide Strikers take on the Melbourne Stars has been postponed as it will require the players to travel to Adelaide from Melbourne. A large group of the Stars contingent are due to complete their isolation on the 6th of January but they will require negative rapid antigen test results and also clearances from the club doctor.
The deadly COVID-19 seems to have hit most of the teams and there are numerous players and support staff from various teams that have contracted the virus by now. The 11th edition of the BBL seems to be in a jeopardy with games being called off or postponed left, right and center. There is uncertainty till the minute the game starts, such is the impact that this COVID-19 pandemic has had on the multi-star T20 league.
With the players and the team management anxious every day about this COVID-19 outbreak, Cricket Australia (CA) plans to make Melbourne the hub for the remaining games of the season. All eight teams will be based in Melbourne which will allow a great degree of flexibility with the schedule and travel as well. The organisers can shuffle around the matches a little easier than before as all teams will be based in one city. Thus, the latest schedule is expected to be announced shortly.
In addition to this, the CA plans to create a central pool of players (top-up players) who can act as substitutes for various teams i.e. a player can feature in multiple teams in the same season if he is picked as a substitute. This would be in case of teams being severely affected by COVID.
Now, due to the postponements, Melbourne Stars have two games to cover up while Brisbane Heat have one additional game pending. It’s been harakiri and everything seems a mess at the moment. But CA will hope the plan to have all the matches in Melbourne which will act as a hub works out as planned and they can complete the 11th season of the BBL well.