The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Tuesday assured foreign players competing in the Indian Premier League that they will arrange their return home once the tournament ends, a day after three Australians quit the event amid an unprecedented surge of Covid-19 cases in India.
In a letter addressed to the players, BCCI COO Hemang Amin said that the Indian cricket board is monitoring the situation and they will ensure they reach their respective countries, reported PTI.
Andrew Tye (Rajasthan Royals) as well as Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa (both Royal Challengers Bangalore) withdrew from the tournament citing personal reasons as apprehension about the coronavirus situation in India.
A day later, on Tuesday, Australia announced that it was suspending air travel to and from India till May 15. According to cricket.com.au, Richardson and Zampa’s situation was unclear as of Tuesday afternoon, as the duo were still in Mumbai. The two players will be flying back to their country on Tuesday night via Doha, PTI reported later on Tuesday. The RCB franchise has moved to Ahmedabad.
“They (the duo) will be flying back to Australia via Doha later tonight,” a source told PTI.
On that note, the BCCI wrote to the foreign players telling them that their safe return home will be its responsibility once the tournament ends on May 30.
“We understand that many of you are apprehensive about how you will get back home once the tournament concludes... We want to apprise you that you have nothing to worry about,” Amin wrote, according to the PTI report.
“The BCCI will do everything to ensure that you reach your respective destinations seamlessly. The BCCI is monitoring the situation very closely and is working with the government authorities to make arrangements to get you home once the tournament concludes.
“Be rest assured that the tournament is not over for BCCI till each one of you has reached your home, safe and sound,” he added.
Mumbai Indians’ Australian batsman Chris Lynn hoped that Cricket Australia would arrange a chartered flight for those who have stayed back after CA checked on their travel plans.
“I texted back that as Cricket Australia make 10 per cent of every IPL contract was there a chance we could spend that money this year on a charter flight once the tournament is over?” Lynn told News Corp media.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison ruled out any government assistance and said that those in the IPL will have to make their own arrangements for return.
“They have travelled there privately. This wasn’t part of an Australian tour. They’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources too, I’m sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with their own arrangements,” Morrison was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
India is recording over three lakh daily cases for the past few days and the health infrastructure is struggling to handle the rise with shortage of oxygen and some crucial medicines adding to the crisis.
Kolkata Knight Riders mentor David Hussey acknowledged that Australians in the IPL are a bit nervous about getting back home in the wake of the situation.
Amin lauded the players for carrying on.
“As some of you have said, ‘if we can help distract people from all the troubles of recent times, even if it is for a short while, we have done a great job’. When you all walk out onto the field, you are bringing hope to millions of people who have tuned in.
“If, even for a minute, you can bring a smile on someone’s face, then you have done well. While you are professionals and will play to win, this time you are also playing for something much more important... humanity,” he said.
Several England and New Zealand players are also competing in the event but have not yet officially spoken about their concerns. The IPL final is scheduled to be held on May 30 in Ahmedabad.
As many as 14 Australian players remain in the event, including stars such as Steve Smith (DC), David Warner (SunRisers Hyderabad) and Pat Cummins (Kolkata Knight Riders), as well as coaches Ricky Ponting (DC) and Simon Katich (RCB).
Commentators Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee, Michael Slater and Lisa Sthalekar are also among the Australians involved with the league right now.
The IPL has barred food from outside the designated team hotels in its latest diktats to strengthen the bio-bubble, added the PTI report. In a report on ESPNCricinfo, the BCCI has reassured the players about the safety of the bubble.
“In order to allay any apprehensions and concerns, we are further strengthening our bio-secure environments to keep everyone involved in the tournament safe and healthy. Recently, we increased testing in our bio-bubbles to be extra vigilant. Instead of the stipulated test every five days, we now conduct a test every two days.
“Further, earlier in the tournament, we had permitted food deliveries from outside your designated hotels, but these privileges have also been withdrawn,”Amin wrote in his letter.
The crisis outside the IPL’s bio-bubble has led to some talk about whether it is appropriate for the league to go on and whether its organisers and participating players should be doing more to express empathy. With teams moving around in caravan-style format for this season, the next set of matches are to be played in Ahmedabad (started from Monday) and New Delhi, two severely affected cities.
On Monday, Kolkata Knight Riders pacer Pat Cummins donated to the PM CARES fund and hoped that it would inspire more to contribute. Earlier, Tye had said one of the questions that he wondered about was the spending of money by companies and franchises towards the tournament when medical care was proving tough for many of the citizens.
Zampa, one of the Aussie players to have taken the decision to leave, said he felt the bubble felt vulnerable.
“We’ve been in a few [bubbles] now, and I feel like this is probably the most vulnerable,” he told The Age and the Herald.
“I just feel like because it’s India, we’re always being told about the hygiene over here and being extra careful ... I just felt like it was the most vulnerable. The IPL that was held in Dubai six months ago didn’t feel that way at all. I felt like that was extremely safe. Personally, I feel like that would have been a better option originally for this IPL but obviously, there’s a lot of political stuff that goes into it. Obviously there’s the T20 World Cup that’s meant to be happening here later this year. That’s probably going to be the next discussion in the cricket world. Six months is a long time.”
With PTI Inputs