The apparently casual disregard of a crucial COVID-19 protocol by five Indian international cricketers in Melbourne on New Year’s Day, lays bare the bubble of carelessness that India’s superstars have inhabited. Exposing themselves to the chance of an infection while dining indoors, when that has specifically been pencilled in as a “don’t” in a list of bio-bubble rules, is not something to be proud of. Being unmindful of regulations that top health authorities have been repeatedly stressing on — chances of contracting the virus indoors where you can’t wear a mask while eating are high — smacks of a disdain of rules laid down to safeguard more than just the five who sauntered in for a meal. Neither the fan who captured the bunch on camera, nor the Australian board that is investigating the breach or the reviled media are at fault here.
A sporting bio-bubble comes at a huge cost. The Australian one set up for the series and their Big Bash sets them back by a whopping Rs 160 crore. When envisaged by Bundesliga, sport’s bio-bubble extracted personal commitment to discipline from its highly paid players. Even one stray infection can blow up into a team being felled down in no time. There are no small or big breaches for a microscopic virus. It doesn’t judge intent either. So, Jofra Archer had to forsake playing in a Test earlier last year, because he “stopped by at his girlfriend’s”. England-South Africa had their entire series cancelled after a pair of positives. The stakes and risks are both high.
Those who opted to inhabit this constrictive form of bio-bubble since before the IPL knew what they were signing up for. And cricketers stepping away, knowing they might not be up to what is indeed an excruciating demand on their minds and bodies to stay isolated, isn’t unheard of. Indian cricketers need to understand that when it comes to COVID-19 prevention, rules are non-negotiable. The virus will spare neither the shooter, nor the messenger — though only one of them is privileged to play international cricket.
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