Australian cricketers arrive in Sydney after IPL 2021 suspension

Most of the Australians relocated to the Maldives and waited for the travel ban to be lifted before getting a charter flight home.

Former Australian skipper Steve Smith was part of IPL side Delhi Capitals.   -  IPL

Pat Cummins and Steve Smith were among the stars of Australia's Indian Premier League (IPL) contingent who arrived back in Sydney on Monday, almost two weeks after the lucrative cricket tournament was suspended amid surging COVID-19 infections in the host country.

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The IPL was postponed indefinitely on May 4 after players or staff from at least three of the eight franchises returned positive tests for the coronavirus. Tournament organisers urged players from all over the world to return to their homes as soon as possible.

But the timing left Australian players, coaches and commentators in limbo because the government had temporarily barred incoming travellers from India.

Most of the Australians relocated to the Maldives and waited for the travel ban to be lifted before getting a charter flight home. They will have to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine.

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Former Test batsman Mike Hussey, who remained in India to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19, was expected to return home later Monday via Qatar.

The New South Wales state government has coordinated a quarantine arrangement for the cricket contingent that does not impact the capped, overstretched system in place for travellers arriving from abroad. The players in the IPL work on individual contracts and the league is not part of their obligations with the national team.

The cricketers “did not take one place in quarantine that anyone else have otherwise had,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. “That’s something we insisted on with the New South Wales state government when they were going to allow that flight back in.”

Cricket Australia's interim chief executive Nick Hockley said he was grateful to the BCCI for ensuring a "safe and quick" return of Australia's IPL contingent.

"We are delighted. We're really grateful to the BCCI for getting them home quickly and safely. I haven't spoken to them since they've landed, but obviously we've been in text exchange and I'm sure they'll be very relieved and very appreciative to be home," Hockley was quoted as saying in Sydney Morning Herald.

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