Selectors mull bubble plans for summer

Australian cricket selectors will need to adjust to biosecurity measures this summer with an extended Test squad likely to stay together throughout the series.

Head coach JUSTIN LANGER.
Head coach JUSTIN LANGER. Picture: Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

Pick and stick will take on additional meaning this summer, when COVID-19 protocols will force cricket selectors to make early calls on which fringe players should bypass the BBL and enter Australia's biosecurity bubble.

Cricket Australia has made India's tour and the BBL - both responsible for bringing in much-needed broadcast revenue - a priority as it works through a range of contingency plans for men's cricket in 2020-21.

Settling on schedule changes, such as potentially shifting BBL games and even the Boxing Day Test away from Victoria, and trying to find a window for Sheffield Shield matches will be tough.

AAP understands that tweaks to the standard selection process, which will now likely entail an extended squad staying together for much of the summer, are also being thrashed out.

Australia coach Justin Langer will require more reserves on deck than normal because of the potential need for COVID-19 substitutes and other factors.

Marcus Stoinis and Usman Khawaja are among the BBL drawcards who could potentially be benched from the Twenty20 competition because of national duties, yet not take part in the four-Test series.

Managing the transition from Tests to ODIs will be another key issue.

England have operated with separate white-ball and red-ball bubbles, although that is partly because their ODIs against Ireland were sandwiched between two Test series.

The BBL and Australia-India Test series are both slated to start on December 3.

The fourth Test is due to finish on January 7, while Australia's first ODI against Virat Kohli's team is on January 12.

BBL clubs have already been told that biosecurity rules will ensure their players are no longer released from Australia's enlarged squad in the middle of a series.

Many of the eight franchises, keen to advance plans and get a better idea of when and how their squads might be depleted, are hopeful that CA will opt for a system that includes a break between Test and ODI bubbles.

But that won't be easy given expected quarantine periods and the tight turnaround between formats.

England picked a mammoth 30-man Test training group in June.

Langer and CA colleagues, who were already concerned about the risk of burnout prior to the pandemic, are keen to manage players carefully during a summer unlike any other.

West Indies captain Jason Holder, whose team were widely applauded for recently touring England and restarting international cricket during the health crisis, admitted the trip was "really challenging" and that "mentally some of the guys were worn out".