Indian Premier League 2020
Travel restrictions put Aussies' IPL plans in jeopardy
The 17 Australians holding lucrative contracts for the T20 tournament have had their situation further complicated by the latest COVID-19 measures
AAP & cricket.com.au
18 March 2020, 06:27 PM AEST
Unprecedented travel restrictions are likely to scupper Australians' participation in the Indian Premier League, should the Twenty20 bonanza proceed at all.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a blanket "do not travel overseas" advisory that will remain in place indefinitely, intending to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The level-four warning spells out "you should not travel" but is not a strict ban on travel. The government warning says: "If you do travel, get professional security advice. Your travel insurance policy might be void. The Australian Government may not be able to help you."
Presuming that advice remains in place next month, IPL-bound Australians would need to finalise individual insurance and emergency-plan arrangements.
Cricket Australia (CA), having recently attempted to soothe concerns it would revoke no-objection certificates for the IPL, is supportive of Wednesday's travel advice.
CA has previously opted against sending teams to Pakistan when it was classified a level-three "reconsider your need to travel" destination by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
This is arguably a more complex issue for many reasons, especially as the IPL falls during players' leave period, but it could prove a moot point.
IPL organisers have already pushed this season's start back to April 15, the same date which the Indian government has suspended all visas until, with expectation growing it will change again soon.
"We've never seen anything like this," national limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch, who was slated to join Virat Kohli at Royal Challengers Bangalore, told SEN.
"That (travel advice) has changed over the last couple of hours. That could change in two weeks or three weeks, it's hard to plan anything.
"But it's just about making sure everyone around you personally is safe and you're doing everything you can to stop the spread."
Pat Cummins ($A3.16 million) headlined the list of Australians sold during the most recent auction, with Steve Smith, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell all on deals topping A$2m.
One player agent suggested to AAP on Wednesday that India's board could attempt to stage a truncated IPL that ends as late as September.
England intended to launch a new format in July with help from Finch and other Australian stars, but the Hundred is now in doubt like so many sporting events.
A number of Australian off-field positions are also under threat: Ricky Ponting is head coach of the Delhi Daredevils, while current men's team assistant coach Andrew McDonald has the reins for the Rajasthan Royals. Former Test batsman Simon Katich is set to be a first-year head coach at Royal Challengers Bangalore, assisted by Tasmanian Tigers chief Adam Griffith.
Australian players would cop a major financial blow if the coronavirus outbreak affected the next home summer, which includes a lucrative Test series against India plus the men's T20 World Cup.
"That's the risk you take when you have the revenue-share model, when the organisation takes a hit then so do we," Finch said.
"We understand we're all in this together.
"I'm sure in the long run, everything will be back to normal at some stage. It's just hard to say when."
Australians with IPL deals
Pat Cummins: $3.16m (Kolkata Knight Riders), Steve Smith: $2.3m (Rajasthan Royals)*, David Warner: $2.3m (Sunrisers Hyderabad) *, Glenn Maxwell: $2.19m (Kings XI Punjab), Nathan Coulter-Nile: $1.63m (Mumbai Indians), Marcus Stoinis: $980,000 (Delhi Capitals), Aaron Finch: $897,485 (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Kane Richardson: $816,000 (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Shane Watson: $775,000 (Chennai Super Kings) * , Alex Carey: $490,000 (Delhi Capitals), Mitch Marsh: $408,000 (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Josh Hazlewood: $408,000 (Chennai Super Kings), Chris Lynn: $408,000 (Mumbai Indians), Andrew Tye: $204,000 (Rajasthan Royals), Billy Stanlake: $97,000 (Sunrisers Hyderabad)*, Chris Green: $41,000 (Kolkata Knight Riders), Josh Philippe: $41,000 (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
* These players were bought at the 2018 IPL auction and have since been retained by their franchises
Big-hitting batsman Alex Hales has self-isolated in the UK after displaying symptoms of coronavirus on his return from playing in the Pakistan Super League
Hales, who played with the Sydney Thunder last summer, was one of a number of international players to leave the PSL early as the COVID-19 pandemic spread.
He developed suspected symptoms on his return to the UK, and the tournament was suspended in Pakistan.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan said officials were forced to suspend the tournament as Hales confirmed on Twitter he first started developing flu-like symptoms on Sunday after returning to Britain.
"In the light of the speculation and rumour that is currently circulating within the cricket world and on social media, I felt I needed to give a full explanation of my situation," Hales said.
"Like many other overseas players, I reluctantly left the Pakistan Super League early because, with COVID-19 reaching global pandemic status, I felt it was more important to be with my family rather than face a period of lockdown thousands of miles from home.
"I returned to the UK in the early hours of Saturday morning feeling perfectly fit and healthy and with absolutely no symptoms of the virus.
"However, I awoke early on Sunday morning having developed a fever and followed the government's advice of self-isolation, a process I am obviously still following having developed a dry and persistent cough.
"At this stage, it has not been possible to be tested although I am hopeful that might be the case later today so that I can get absolute confirmation of my current health status."
Five Australians had featured in the 2020 edition of the PSL: Shane Watson, Ben Cutting and Fawad Ahmed all with the Quetta Gladiators, while the Lahore Qalanders featured Chris Lynn and Ben Dunk.
All players will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on their return to the country following the introduction of strict measures by the Australian government.
In the UK, the England and Wales Cricket Board will begin discussions with counties on options for the 2020 season in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 County Championship is due to begin on 12 April – three days before the earliest date of the IPL's resumption – but Hampshire chairman Rod Bansgrove told the BBC it was "unlikely" the season would start on time.
"We're in completely uncharted water with an extraordinary series of circumstances that have led us to this position we're in now, confronted with a pandemic the likes we've never seen, " Bransgrove told BBC Radio Solent.
"It's likely to get a lot worse before it will get better and I think our conclusion is we need to have plans for various different contingencies.
"They include no cricket at all during the season, but hopefully that won't be the one that prevails."
A number of Australians have deals for the County Championship – including Australian Test sensation Marnus Labuschagne who is signed to return to Glamorgan – as well as the associated T20 competition and the new Hundred competition.