Uncertainty remains for 'anxious' Aussies at the IPL
Australian cricketers are anxious about their uncertain path home from the Indian Premier League while officials examine whether a charter flight would be viable while BCCI also commits to helping
28 April 2021, 11:49 AM AEST
Australians involved in the Indian Premier League are "pretty anxious" about their uncertain return home as officials seek to shore up the early exit of Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson.
The federal government has halted all direct commercial and repatriation flights from India to Australia until May 15, with the measures set to be reviewed closer to that date.
The IPL is scheduled to finish on May 31 Australian time, so any extension of the travel ban could create substantial headaches for Cricket Australia.
A group of almost 40 Australian players, coaches, umpires and broadcast staff may yet return home via an end-of-tournament charter flight, but that would require government approval.
"One of the reasons for the pause was to give our hotel quarantine a little bit of space because of the load we've seen out of India," federal Sports Minister Richard Colbeck told ABC radio on Wednesday.
"There aren't any decisions that have been made yet with respect to (approval for a charter flight for) the cricketers."
The players would have been buoyed by support from the BCCI on Tuesday after interim CEO Hemang Amin sent players a letter assuring them of assistance in getting home.
"We understand that many of you are apprehensive about how you will get back home once the tournament concludes, which is natural and understandable," the letter states. "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."
Safety first: David Warner and Kane Williamson in full PPE as the Sunrisers head to Delhi #IPL2021 📷: @davidwarner31 pic.twitter.com/Y52kMUsD16— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) April 27, 2021
The most immediate priority for CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) in their talks with federal government is Zampa and Richardson.
The pair followed the lead of compatriot Andrew Tye in cutting their IPL stints short, wanting to return home because of India's COVID-19 crisis.
Tye has arrived in Sydney and started his hotel quarantine stint, but Zampa and Richardson are seemingly still in a holding pattern.
They were expected to fly from Mumbai to Doha on a commercial flight that departed on Wednesday morning then seek to return home.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed on Tuesday that indirect journeys from India to Australia would be impossible during coming weeks because stopover ports, like Qatar, would also block travellers.
"We've been in constant dialogue with them (Zampa and Richardson). As you'd imagine, they're in a difficult position," ACA chief executive Todd Greenberg told 2GB.
"We've got to try to find out some more information.
"There were a few guys who were quite anxious to get home, everyone's got their own individual story."
Greenberg said the majority of players feel "really comfortable" in the tournament's biosecurity bubble and intend to finish their commitment.
However, they remain understandably uneasy about what will happen beyond the final.
"They're all pretty anxious. They're in one of the biggest hotspots we've seen since COVID," he said.
"They're very anxious about getting home at the end.
"But also anxious about what a beautiful place India has been ... and they're seeing such devastation."
The prime minister has declared that Australians involved in the IPL would not jump the queue for repatriation flights whenever they resume.
Greenberg, who confirmed the ACA were in talks with CA regarding whether a charter flight for the IPL contingent would be possible, noted there is no "expectation from any of our players or coaching staff over there for any specific favours".
"There's no free rides," Greenberg said.
"What they (players) are looking for is the right information, so they can plan accordingly.
"There's still a good four weeks of the tournament to be played."