IPL assures safe return to anxious overseas players

Following the current player exodus due to COVID-19 scare, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has assured that foreign players competing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 will have a safe return home from the bio bubble after the tournament, the IPL Chief Operating Officer Hemang Amin wrote to all franchises, players, support staff and commentators.

“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,” Amin wrote. “The BCCI will do everything to ensure that you reach your respective destinations seamlessly. Follow us for more IPL 2021 match highlights.

The letter came shortly after Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) announced the withdrawal of Australian players Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson. Earlier, Rajasthan Royals (RR) Liam Livingstone returned to his home in England, citing “bubble fatigue”, while his teammate Andrew Tye became the second player to leave the tournament due to concerns about borders closing in Australia.

“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” the letter added. “Be rest assured that the tournament is not over for BCCI till each one of you has reached your home, safe and sound.” Concerns among Aussie players also grow after Australia banned flights from India until May 15.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also warned that the players would have to make their own way home since they were not on national duty. “They have travelled there privately. This wasn’t part of an Australian tour. They’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources too, I’m sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with our own arrangements,” Morrison said

A number of Australia’s top cricketers remain in India, including batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner, and paceman Pat Cummins. Meanwhile, Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association also issued a joint statement, saying that they are monitoring the situation.

“Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association remain in regular contact with Australian players, coaches and commentators taking part in the Indian Premier League, which is being conducted under strict bio-security protocols,” the two bodies said.

Calls to cancel the IPL due to the ongoing crisis being faced by India have been growing. It is learnt that India, including the IPL host cities, is nearly losing its battle against the spread of the pandemic. There have been 300,000 new cases recorded every day – the most by any nation since the pandemic broke out in 2020 – which has led to crippling of healthcare services in the country.

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