BCCI assures safe return for IPL players, staff; Uncertainty over Australia players

Rajasthan Royals
Rajasthan Royals team bus parked outside a city hotel in Kolkata, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. PTI/Swapan Mahapatra

New Delhi: IPL chairman Brijesh Patel on Tuesday said the BCCI will "find a way" to send the league's foreign recruits back to their respective countries after the event was suspended indefinitely due to a COVID-19 outbreak in its bio-bubble.

The suspension of the tournament was announced after SunRisers Hyderabad's wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha tested positive for COVID-19 along with Delhi Capitals' veteran spinner Amit Mishra.

"We need to send them home and we will find a way to do that," Brijesh told PTI when asked how will the foreigners return home but did not elaborate beyond that.

The foreigners involved in the lucrative league are concerned about returning to their respective countries due to travel restrictions imposed in the wake of a deadly resurgence of the pandemic in India.

The BCCI had assured foreign players of a safe return earlier as well.

The IPL had 14 Australian players left, after three pullouts a few days ago, along with 10 from New Zealand and 11 Englishmen. South Africa had 11 players in the league, which also featured nine West Indians, three Afghans and two from Bangladesh.

CA not to seek travel ban exemption

In a joint statement, Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association said they respect their government's decision to suspend flights operating out of India due to the COVID surge here and will not seek exemptions for its players stuck in the country ravaged by a deadly second wave of the pandemic.

"CA is in direct contact with the BCCI as they work through plans to ensure the safe accommodation and repatriation of Australian players, coaches, match officials and commentators back home to Australia.

"CA and the ACA respect the decision of the Australian Government to pause travel from India until at least May 15 and will not seek exemptions."

They further stated, "CA and the ACA thank the BCCI for their efforts and cooperation for the safe repatriation of all participants at the IPL."

Players to undergo quarantine in South Africa

Reacting to the big BCCI move, Cricket South Africa (CSA) said it is in contact with its players who will need to home quarantine on arrival from India as per the World Health Organization recommendations.

"Those travelling back to South Africa will undergo home quarantine in line with the current World Health Organization recommendations," it said in a release.

"CSA and the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) are in contact with all players and are assured of their safety and comfort in their respective locations."

CSA said it supported the BCCI decision of suspend the league keeping in mind the current situation and thanked the Indian board for looking after its players.

"CSA supports the decision to put the health and safety interests of all involved in the tournament first and foremost and has made contact with all of the relevant franchises to ensure the expedited travel of all South African players and support staff back to our shores."

'Have faith in BCCI'

New Zealand Cricket expressed faith in BCCI's ability to handle the situation.

"The players are in a relatively safe environment and those within affected teams are in isolation," read an NZC statement posted by 'ESPNcricinfo'.

"We'll continue to liaise with the BCCI, the ECB and New Zealand government authorities in terms of managing their situation - but at this juncture it's too early to discuss potential options."

India and New Zealand players were supposed to travel together in a charter flight to the UK where they will clash in the World Test Championship final in June.

Of all the foreign recruits, the Australians have been the most vocal about their anxieties.

On Monday, cricketer-turned-commentator Michael Slater, who was doing commentary in the IPL, escaped to Maldives and launched a scathing attack on his country's Prime Minister Scott Morrison for not allowing its citizens to return from India, calling the travel ban a "disgrace".

"If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It's a disgrace!! Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system. I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect," Slater tweeted.

A couple of days back, Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell said that the cricketers from his country wouldn't mind travelling in the same charter flight that would take India, New Zealand, and England players to the UK after the IPL.

On Monday, Chennai Super Kings bowling coach L Balaji along with Kolkata Knight Riders bowlers Sandeep Warrier and Varun Chakravarthy had also returned positive results.

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