Former Australian cricketer Michael Slater, who was on commentary duty for the Indian Premier League, has left to the Maldives, reported the Australian on Monday.

Slater has also launched a scathing attack on his country’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison for not allowing Australian citizens to return from Covid-19 hit India, calling the travel ban a “disgrace”.

Australia has shut its borders and is not allowing any commercial flights from India because of the Covid-19 surge, which has led to players, support staff and commentators, who might have wanted to leave the IPL mid-way, in a fix.

The Australian report suggested that Slater “had been trying to get out for a week and eventually found his way to the Maldives where he will wait until he can return to his home country without the threat of being thrown into jail.”

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Last week, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye and Kane Richardson had left the tournament mid-way, citing personal reasons, believed to be concerns about the situation in India and the impending travel restrictions. Among officials, umpire Paul Reiffel wanted to return home but reportedly missed his flight out of India by a matter of minutes after the borders were closed.

The government has made it clear that Australians who are engaged in the IPL will have to make their own arrangements.

“If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!! Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system. I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect,” Slater tweeted.

Slater’s tweet later evidently confirmed he is out of the country.

“And for those who think this is a money exercise. Well forget it. This is what I do for a living and I have not made a penny having left early. So please stop the abuse and think of the thousands dying in India each day. It’s called empathy. If only our government had some,” he added.

Threatening a five-year jail term or hefty fine, the Australian government temporarily barred its citizens from entering the country if they happened to be in India within 14 days of their intended arrival. The decision was announced after a meeting of the National Cabinet last Friday and came into force from Monday, reported PTI.

The move aims at keeping the Covid-19 spread in check in Australia as India is facing a surge in cases.

The decision was also based on the proportion of overseas travellers in quarantine in Australia, who have contracted the infection in India, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Three Australian players left the IPL before the travel ban came into force. The ban is in place till May 15. There are 13 Australian players and many Australian coaches, commentators and officials in India.

The Kolkata Knight Riders camp witnessed two confirmed positive cases on Monday, that led to the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Ahmedabad to be postponed.

On 30 April, Bengalaru FC’s Australian footballer Erik Paartalu had also slammed his government’s move to ban all flights.

“As an Aussie that has lived and worked in India for 4 years now I have never felt so far away from feeling Australian. I don’t know how you can deny citizens to return home especially when there are hotel quarantines in place,” Paartalu tweeted.

“I have worked inside a bubble for 7 months here in India and this is a huge blow to mine and thousands of others trying to get back to Australia. I hope the government aren’t able to implement what they are trying to do.”

Paartalu, 34, is part of BFC’s squad for their ongoing AFC Cup campaign.

“I understand everyone’s concern with the level of infection over here and the possibility of a new variant. But isn’t that the purpose of hotel quarantine for 14 days? Love to all those affected and hope this situation has a good outcome for all the Aussies here in India,” he wrote on his Twitter page.

India on Sunday recorded 3,92,488 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall infection count in the country to 1,95,57,457 since the pandemic first broke out in January last year. The daily surge in cases is slightly lower than that of Saturday’s when India reported over 4 lakh cases for the first time

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With PTI inputs