‘What if I need a haircut? Why can’t I go to another player’s room if we maintain social distancing there? During photoshoots, can we hug and give high-fives? What is the protocol for the make-up person? Will the team barber be in a PPE kit? Can we avoid nose-swab testing and opt for saliva testing to detect Covid? Will I have to wear the Bluetooth wrist band all the time?’ – These are some of the questions raised by players during a webinar conducted by Indian Premier League officials in the United Arab Emirates on Monday.
The protocol that raised the most hackles among players is the one that prohibits going to another player’s room despite staying in the bio-bubble – they are not allowed to go not just during the quarantine period but at any time before or during the tournament. They can meet each other at the doors of their rooms or in the designated meeting areas, but have to adhere to the two-metre social distancing requirement.
Bands with warning alarm
The players have to wear a special Bluetooth wrist band that will sound an alarm if they break the two-metre distance rule. The players can take off the band only when they go to sleep. It’s also learnt that even the family members of the players staying with them have to wear the band though there is no clarity yet on the functioning of this device.
The players were informed that even in the team bus, they have to sit in a zig-zag fashion so that they don’t come in each other’s contact. A few of them wanted access to the hotel lobby, but it was denied.
Rajasthan Royals seamer Jaydev Unadkat shared the difficulty from the players’ point of view. “I think that restriction about not going into each other’s rooms will be the most difficult part for us players. We have never faced it in the past,” Unadkat told The Indian Express. “You need someone to talk to when you are away from home for such a long time. It’s easier to say than to actually do it but there is no choice.”
This restriction was the most unpopular among players during the webinar, chaired by BCCI’s interim chief executive officer Hemang Amin, anti-doping manager Dr Abhijit Salvi and the Indian team physio Nitin Patel.
Incidentally, Mumbai Indians have taken a hair-stylist along with them from India to the UAE. Rajasthan Royals had pre-arranged for a private beach to be exclusively kept for the use of their team. “I guess I will have to cut my own hair as our team hasn’t been posh enough to fly in a barber!” says a player from another team, with a laugh.
One of the usual sights in team hotels are players ganging up at a room for some PlayStation and game-console time. But that won’t be possible this IPL. They will have to use the designated areas like gym, team room and pool where they can communicate, but with the requisite social distancing. Many franchises have also decided not to allow outside food; instead teams will have only the food served by the hotel.
Unadkat talked about some of the do’s and don’ts. “Now we can go to a private beach or at the team gym or the team room. Those are the places we can meet. Players can’t come to my room and when we meet, we have to wear that band to ensure social distancing,” he informed.
At the webinar, a support staff wanted to know if someone who has tested positive can contract Covid-19 again. During photo shoots, the camera crew will have to wear PPE kits and hairstylists will have to use them when they are on the job.
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