IPL 2020: Australia, NZ not in favour of revoking NOCs yet

Some of the top cricketers in the world including Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Tom Banton are inclined to play in the IPL should it go ahead. 

Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood have been picked by KKR and CSK, respectively.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Even as COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) continues to cripple major sporting events across the world, the cricket boards of Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand are still amenable to the idea of sending their players to India for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020, should it happen.

The final approval is contingent to the respective governments giving the green light to go ahead and adequate preventive measures being put in place to combat the spread of the pandemic in the host country. The Indian Sports Ministry on Thursday issued a fresh directive to sports federations in the country to suspend all events, competitions and trials until April 15, and with several countries introducing restrictions on air travel from regions in Europe or Asia that have been badly hit, there are concerns over the participation of foreign players in this year's IPL.

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A Cricket Australia (CA) spokesperson said the board was working with players and their managers on ensuring, "they are aware of all the facts before they consider playing overseas. This information is being shared as part of ongoing discussions. The NOCs will most likely be issued along with information to ensure all players are fully informed before making individual decisions. As you can see, it is a very fluid situation."

The 16 IPL-bound Australian players are in limbo after the country's Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday issued an indefinite level-four travel ban for the entire world but Pat Cummins (KKR) and Josh Hazlewood's (CSK) manager Judie Andersen, from Maximum Group International, said there was "nothing from Cricket Australia (on revoking NOCs) at the moment but they are reviewing the situation. Regarding the IPL, other than a tentative date of 15 April, there have been no further updates."

Inclined to play

Meanwhile, Australia's trans-Tasman rival New Zealand's cricket board too has echoed the same sentiment. The two remaining games of the Chappell-Hadlee ODI series between Australia and New Zealand were cancelled as the visitor was forced to hurry back home to avoid a new set of travel restrictions.

The Chappell-Hadlee series was the last international series being played following the abandonment of England’s tour of Sri Lanka and South Africa’s one-day series in India. But according to the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) Board, there has been "no consideration given to revoking NOCs. NZC is instead focussing on ensuring our professional players, men and women, receive the most relevant information, advice and guidance as it comes to hand."

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Elsewhere, sources close to KKR's new signing Tom Banton have indicated that the England international is intending to play if the IPL went ahead. "Tom will follow all government advice and be guided by his core employer Somerset Ccc and also ECB. He really hopes the IPL can go ahead as long as safety for all concerned is in place with regard to Coronavirus," said the source on condition of anonymity.

At home, after a washout of the series opener in Dharamsala, the remaining two One-Day Internationals involving India and South Africa were cancelled as a precautionary measure. The call to reschedule the series came close on the heels of the BCCI's decision to defer the IPL until April 15.

However, CSA has refrained from taking a definitive stance - at this point - on its players featuring in the IPL.

"Given the amount of time still left before the IPL, we have not yet been in contact with our colleagues at the BCCI about this specific issue.

"In terms of our next course of action, CSA will be guided by the provisions of the government of South Africa, in terms of what the sporting fraternity would be at liberty to do," said the Head of Media and Communications, CSA.

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