Tye exits IPL as India coronavirus cases skyrocket
WA quick cites fears of being locked out of Australia as the reason for leaving IPL mid-season as India's COVID-19 catastrophe worsens
26 April 2021, 06:00 AM AEST
Fast bowler AJ Tye expects more Australians may follow him in departing early from the Indian Premier League as official recorded daily cases of COVID-19 in the country surge towards 350,000.
On Sunday, Tye flew from Mumbai to Doha on his way to Sydney, the 34-year-old taking the chance to return home after the Australian federal government announced last week it will stop almost a third of flights from India due to the surge of coronavirus cases there.
Tye, who was with the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, said he's since been contacted by other Australian players currently in India, enquiring about how he managed to secure a flight home.
"There's definitely concerns," Tye told SEN. "A lot of guys have been in touch today once they've realised I was leaving.
"Some of the guys are very interested in what route I took home and how I approached it. Other guys are just happy to make sure I'm OK and I'm in a good space.
"There is some concern. I'm not sure if I'll be the only one, but that's too early for me to say."
There are 16 other Australian players currently in the IPL, including the likes of Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins, as well as a handful of coaches like Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich and commentators such as Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee and Michael Slater.
On Sunday, ESPNCricinfo reported that two other Australian players have already told their franchise that they want to return home.
Indian spin star Ravichandran Ashwin has also announced he will leave the IPL bubble to be with his family.
I would be taking a break from this years IPL from tomorrow. My family and extended family are putting up a fight against #COVID19 and I want to support them during these tough times. I expect to return to play if things go in the right direction. Thank you @DelhiCapitals 🙏🙏— Stay home stay safe! Take your vaccine🇮🇳 (@ashwinravi99) April 25, 2021
While the IPL is being played in a tightly controlled bio-secure bubble and no one inside that environment has returned a positive test since the tournament began two weeks ago, Tye said he was "100 per cent" concerned about contracting the virus that is ravaging the country.
He said fears that he wouldn't be able to secure a safe passage home was the main driver behind his decision.
Tye's home state of Western Australia has announced their cap on international arrivals will be halved for the next month and its premier, Mark McGowan, criticised the federal government for allowing a large number of arrivals from India.
"I just thought I should try and get on the front foot and get home before I got locked out of the country," said Tye, who got married in Perth earlier this month, shortly before he departed for India.
"I think I've had 11 days at home and out of the bubble since August.
"I just wanted to get home. Dealing with the stress of bubble life has taken its toll."
While Australian players are officially on leave, Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association have been in touch with those currently in India.
Nine Media reported on Sunday that there had been discussion about organising a chartered flight back to Australia. CA said there have not yet been any firm plans made about getting players home, but the governing body will not leave players stranded.
"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 biosecurity protocols,” a statement on Monday afternoon read.
"We will continue to listen to feedback from those on the ground in India and the advice of the Australian Government.
"Our thoughts are with the people of India at this difficult time."
The eight-team IPL started with matches in Chennai and Mumbai but the tournament is now scheduled to shift to the capital Delhi, the epicentre of the surge in cases.
The ABC is reporting that COVID-19 is currently killing one person every four minutes in Delhi.
On Sunday, almost 350,000 positive cases were officially recorded as well as 2767 deaths, the fourth-straight day of world record case numbers. The actual number of cases and COVID-related deaths is reportedly much higher.
Tye indicated he also grappled with the philosophical question about whether the big-money tournament should continue amidst the health crisis.
"From a player safety point of view, we're safe now but is it going to stay safe?," he said.
"But looking at it from an Indian point of view, how are these companies and franchises spending so much money, and the government, on the IPL when there's people not being able to get accepted into hospital?
"If sport can continue and be one of those avenues to relieve stress or give a glimmer of hope that the world is OK and there is light at the end of the tunnel, I think it should go ahead.
“But I know that's not everyone's feelings and I completely respect everyone's views from all angles."