The Australian contingent at the Indian Premier League will arrive in the Maldives from India later today on a chartered flight.
- Australians leaving the Indian Premier League are set for an indefinite stay in the Maldives
- New Zealand Cricket is flying a number of players directly home, with others set to travel to England
- The T20 World Cup is scheduled to start in India in October
The flight has been arranged and paid for by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Around 40 Australians — players, coaches, backroom staff and commentators — will be on the flight after they were stuck in India when the tournament was indefinitely suspended due to COVID concerns.
Chennai Super Kings batting coach and former Australian Test player Michael Hussey will remain in India after testing positive for the virus.
The Australian Cricketers’ Association says he is experiencing mild symptoms.
Three players — Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, and Andrew Tye — are already quarantining in Australia, having left the tournament before the Australian government’s travel ban on arrivals from India.
The charter flight, and any further travel commitments on the BCCI’s behalf, are in line with promises made by the BCCI before the tournament had to be halted.
“Rest assured that the tournament is not over for the BCCI until each and every one of you has reached your home, safe and sound,” wrote BCCI interim chief executive Hemang Amin to IPL players on April 27.
But how long the Australian contingent will have to remain in the Maldives is uncertain, with Australia’s borders closed to India until at least May 15.
The participation of Australian players in the IPL occurs in something of a grey area.
The players compete in the tournament on their own time, but each requires permission from Cricket Australia in the form of a Non-Objection Certificate to compete.
Cricket Australia also takes 10 per cent of the money from each player’s IPL contract. This was a point raised by Australian batsman Chris Lynn when he floated the idea of a Cricket Australia-organised charter flight home — an idea that was quickly shot down.
However, there is no doubt that both Cricket Australia and the BCCI would benefit from Australian IPL participants being returned as safely and quickly as possible.
Mindful of public perception that rich and famous cricketers would be seen to be queue-jumping over other Australians stranded in India or other overseas places during the pandemic, Cricket Australia interim chief executive Nick Hockley has emphasised his organisation will be asking for no special favours from the federal government when it comes to repatriation.
The situation Australian players find themselves in is in stark contrast to most of the other foreigners playing in the IPL.
Eight of the 11 English players who played in this year’s IPL are already quarantining back in England, with the other three — white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, Chris Jordan, and Dawid Malan — expected to leave India within the next couple of days.
The ABC has been informed most New Zealand players, support staff, and commentators remaining at the tournament will leave Delhi tomorrow on one of two charter flights, arriving in Auckland on Saturday, where they will go into managed isolation.
New Zealand’s captain, Kane Williamson, along with spin bowler Mitchell Santner, fast bowler Kyle Jamieson, and physiotherapist Tommy Simsek, will remain in India until May 11, when they will fly to England. This is the first date on which they could obtain an exemption to arrive in England.
New Zealand is set to play a two-Test series in England next month, as well as the final of the inaugural World Test Championship against India at Southampton.
South Africa presently has no restrictions on flights from India. The South African IPL contingent is currently on its way home or is set to depart later this week.
ESPN Cricinfo is reporting that two West Indian players, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, are due to fly back to the Caribbean tonight.
Naturally, the future of this year’s IPL is very much unknown. There has been talk of the competition being concluded in September, but whether international players would want to return is doubtful.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit cricket harder than most sports, and the situation in India has caused some nervousness in England, with India set for a big-money five-Test tour there later this year.
Australia’s next international engagement is a white-ball tour of the Caribbean, tentatively set for July. Whether so-called bubble fatigue causes any players to opt out of that tour remains to be seen.
The 2021 Twenty20 world Cup is also due to be held in India in October and November. The United Arab Emirates — which, ironically, hosted the IPL last year — is firming as favourite to replace India as host for that tournament.
And whilst India’s place at the head of world cricket financially and politically will remain unchallenged, the embarrassment and political fallout for the BCCI will not be easily erased.