Australians involved in the Indian Premier League (IPL) are ‘anxious’ about how they will get home from the tournament as the COVID-19 crisis continues in India but they are not looking for any ‘free rides’, the head of the players’ union said on Wednesday (April 28). Three Australian players have pulled out of the IPL but two remain stranded in India following Australia’s decision to suspend flights from the Asian nation until May 15.
Nearly 40 Australians remain involved in the IPL as players including Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner and Delhi Capitals batsman Steve Smith, coaches, officials and commentators, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they would not be allowed to jump the queue whenever repatriation flights resume. The regular IPL season ends on May 23, with playoffs to follow before the final on May 30.
“As you’d imagine, they’re all pretty anxious,” Australian Cricketers’ Association Chief Executive Todd Greenberg told Sydney radio station 2GB. “They’re in probably one of the biggest hotspots that we’ve seen since COVID so we’re just trying to make sure that they`re all safe and secure and they can fulfil their commitments and … we can get them home as soon as we can.”
India recorded over 3.6 lakh new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and 3,293 deaths, taking the total death toll past 2 lakh, but the IPL is ploughing on despite the health crisis. Former Australia fast bowler Andrew Tye, who was with the Rajasthan Royals, flew home over the weekend but compatriots Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson, team mates for Royal Challengers Bangalore, had been unable to exit India, Greenberg confirmed.
“They’re in a difficult position so we’ve got to try to find out some more information this morning,” he said.
Batsman Chris Lynn, who plays for Mumbai Indians, said this week he had asked governing body Cricket Australia (CA) to arrange a charter flight to bring players home after IPL ends.
Greenberg said the players union was in ‘conversations’ with CA and authorities about that option and would also look to work with IPL club owners on players’ travel arrangements.
“Our players are under no expectations for looking for specific favours … There’s no free rides,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is work really closely with Cricket Australia … and with government, just trying to get all the right information so we can fill them with some confidence that they will be taken care of at the right time.”
Zampa said his decision to cut his IPL season short was about prioritising mental health over money. “I feel like for anyone leaving halfway through a tournament, it’s definitely a financial sacrifice,” the 29-year-old told Nine Network newspapers. “But from my point of view I wanted to put my mental health first.”
“Obviously the COVID situation over here is pretty dire. (There were) a few other things like bubble fatigue and the chance to get home, once all the news broke about the flights and everything.”
CA said late on Tuesday it would continue to ‘liaise’ with the Australian government and monitor the situation.