Cricket Australia’s interim chief executive Nick Hockley on Wednesday said that the Board of Control for Cricket in India is working to arrange a charter flight for the Australian contingent, before heading back home because of a travel ban on the Covid-19-hit India.
Later PTI reported that the contingent will be flying out to Maldives.
The nearly 40-strong Australian contingent, comprising players, support staff and commentators, were in the country for Indian Premier League and could be flown to Maldives or Sri Lanka before getting a connecting flight for home. IPL 2021 was on Tuesday suspended indefinitely after positive Covid-19 cases inside the bio-secure bubbles.
“All Australians are assembling in Delhi beginning today and from there they will head to Maldives by a chartered flight,” a KKR team official told PTI.
The report added Aussies were still waiting to know when they can fly out to Maldives, where they will stay for a few days before flying home. The detour has been forced by the Australian government’s travel ban on India till May 15 because of the explosion of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Cricket-turned-commentator Michael Slater had already reached Maldives.
“What the BCCI is working to do is to move the entire cohort out of India where they will wait until it’s possible to return to Australia,” Hockley had told reporters in Sydney.
“The BCCI has been working on a range of options. That’s now narrowed down to the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The BCCI is committed not only to the first move but also to putting on a charter to bring them back to Australia.”
Chennai Super Kings’ batting coach Mike Hussey, who has also tested positive for Covid-19, will stay back to complete his 10-day quarantine in India.
Australian Cricketers Association chief executive Todd Greenberg said Hussey was in “good spirits” despite contracting the virus.
“His symptoms are relatively mild, so he’s in for a stint of isolation in his hotel for at least 10 days, but his team have got some really good support systems around him, which is good,” Greenberg was quoted as saying in Sydney Morning Herald.
The IPL was postponed on Tuesday after multiple cases of Covid-19 emerged from Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Capitals, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings.
There are many Australian players along with coaches and commentators who might now take a detour as the Australian government has imposed strict sanctions for people returning from India.
Asked if the IPL could resume this year, the CA official said it’s “premature to speculate on that.”
“At the moment, the BCCI is very focused on getting all the players, not just the Australians, home safe.”
Considering the current situation, the players will leave in batches, starting as early as Thursday.
“This is a two-step process. The first step is getting them out of India and the next step is getting them safely home,” Greenberg said.
“We’re still waiting to hear what the government are going to do post-May 15 and once we have that confirmation we’ll put the next start step in place.”
Greenberg has also asked Aussie players to do their “homework” and consider the risks involved before signing overseas T20 deals in the near future
“I’m not sure it will create reticence (in the future) but it will ensure players do their due diligence before they sign agreements,” Greenberg was quoted as saying ESPNcricinfo.
“The world is literally changing before our eyes particularly with Covid and on that side of the world, obviously, those cases are going up exponentially.”
Greenberg acknowledged that many members of the Australian contingent may be dealing with anxiety and stress at the moment, but promised help once they return to their country.
“I was at pains to point it out during the week, the public will see our best Australian cricketers as almost superheroes, they’re brilliant athletes, great cricketers, but they’re human beings, some of them are fathers and husbands and they’re under enormous amounts of stress,” Greenberg, said.
“Some deal with it differently. This will probably be an experience they will never forget.
“We will help them when they come home. Some will cope with it really well, others will need support and counselling and that’s what we’ll do.”
(With PTI inputs)
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