IPL hopeful of no more Australian pullouts despite travel ban

There are still 14 Australian players, including Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins in the IPL 2021 and the BCCI officials have indicated that they are not expecting any more immediate pull outs.

Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper David Warner is among the Australian players who are part of the IPL.   -  BCCI/IPL

Australia’s decision to halt direct flights from India for the next three weeks might make it difficult for that country’s cricketers who are playing in the ongoing season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to return home if they choose to cut short their participation in the tournament.

Three Australian players – Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson and A. J. Tye – have already pulled out of the IPL and left for home with the Covid-19 crisis worsening in India.

Fourteen Australian players including Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins; coaches like Ricky Ponting (Delhi Capitals) and Simon Katich (Royal Challengers Bangalore); and Australian commentators Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee, Michael Slater and Lisa Sthalekar are still involved in the IPL, and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials have indicated they are not expecting any more immediate pullouts.

IPL 2021: BCCI assures players of complete safety inside bio-bubble  

An individual close to Cummins also revealed that “at this stage, Cummins will continue with the Knights (Kolkata Knight Riders).”

A Cricket Australia (CA) source, too, confirmed to Sportstar that “they haven't heard anything yet” about players demanding a charter flight out of India in the coming weeks.

However, in an interaction with News Corp, Mumbai Indians’ overseas recruit Chris Lynn revealed that he had requested CA to arrange for a chartered flight.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday the Australian cricketers playing the IPL will have to use their own resources to return home. He added that the players will not be prioritised when government-organised repatriation flights – which were suspended on Tuesday – ultimately resume. “They have travelled there privately. This wasn’t part of an Australian tour. They’re under their resources and they’ll be using those resources, too, I’m sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with their own arrangements,” Morrison said.

Cricket Australia and ACA Joint Statement

Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association are in regular dialogue with players, coaches, match officials and commentators on the ground in India regarding the current situation and we will assist where possible.

We will continue to liaise closely with the Australian Government following today’s announcement that direct flights from India to Australia will be paused until May 15, and monitor the situation between now and the tournament’s scheduled conclusion on May 30.

We thank the BCCI and IPL for their efforts to keep everyone safe in the tournament’s bio-secure bubble.

Once again, our thoughts are with the people of India during this challenging time.

India Covid-19 outbreak: Full list of players withdrawing from IPL over COVID  

IPL chief operating officer Hemang Amin in a letter written to the Australian players and support staff has assured them the BCCI’s help in returning home safely after the tournament. “We understand that many of you are apprehensive about how you will get back home once the tournament concludes, which is natural and understandable. We want to apprise you that you have nothing to worry about. The BCCI will do everything to ensure that you reach your respective destinations seamlessly. The BCCI is monitoring the situation very closely and is working with the government authorities to make arrangements to get you home once the tournament concludes. Be rest assured that the tournament is not over for BCCI till each one of you has reached your home, safe and sound,” he wrote.

Sportstar has viewed a copy of the letter.

The Indian government will open up the process of Covid-19 vaccination for every citizen above the age of 18 on Saturday, May 1, and it is understood that the BCCI has left the decision of vaccination to the players. Board sources clarified that only Indian players will be eligible for vaccination.