Australia's Zampa and Richardson follow Tye out of IPL amid India Covid surge

Rajasthan Royals player Tye flew to Sydney on Sunday via Mumbai and Doha, citing the 'stress of bubble life' and concerns about borders closing in Australia

Australia's Adam Zampa bowls during the fourth Twenty20 cricket match between New Zealand and Australia in Wellington on March 5, 2021. (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP)
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Australia bowlers Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson have joined compatriot Andrew Tye in cutting short their Indian Premier League (IPL) season and are flying home as India struggles with a massive surge in Covid-19 cases.

Rajasthan Royals player Tye flew to Sydney on Sunday via Mumbai and Doha, citing the "stress of bubble life" and concerns about borders closing in Australia.

"I just thought I should try and get on the front foot and get home before I got locked out of the country," he told Australian radio station SEN.

"I think I've had 11 days at home and out of the bubble since August.

"There's definitely concerns," Tye added. "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.

"I'm not sure if I'll be the only one [returning], but that's too early for me to say."

Zampa and Richardson have now decided to follow suit, with Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday saying they were unavailable for the rest of the IPL season and, like Rajasthan, did not say their players were departing due to Covid concerns and instead were returning to Australia for "personal reasons".

"Royal Challengers Bangalore management respects their decision and offers them complete support," the franchise said on Twitter.

While Zampa was yet to feature for RCB this season, Richardson played one match and picked up one wicket.

It remains to be seen if the likes of fellow top Australian cricketers, including batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner, and paceman Pat Cummins, remain in India.

India reported 349,691 new cases on Sunday, the fourth straight day of record peaks. Hospitals in Delhi and across the country are turning away patients after running out of medical oxygen and beds.

Australia said last week it would cut flights from India and reduce the number of its citizens able to return from other red-zone countries to contain the risk of more virulent strains of Covid-19 spreading.

Australia has largely eliminated Covid-19 by closing its borders and installing snap lockdowns when cases of community transmission occur.

Governing body Cricket Australia and the Australian players union said they were in "regular contact" with Australian players, coaches and commentators at the IPL.

"We will continue to listen to feedback from those on the ground in India and the advice of the Australian government," the bodies said in a joint statement.

India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has also pulled out of the IPL to support his family.

"My family and extended family are putting up a fight against #COVID19 and I want to support them during these tough times," Ashwin, 34, a key Test and ODI player, tweeted.

"I expect to return to play if things go in the right direction. Thank you @DelhiCapitals."

Organisers have said they will push on with the tournament amid growing criticism.

Express Publications newspaper group said it had stopped reporting on the competition until a "semblance of normalcy is restored".

"In such a tragic time, we find it incongruous that the festival of cricket is on in India," the newspaper group said.

"This is commercialism gone crass."

Senior journalist Sharda Ugra also hit out at the IPL in a column for the Hindustan Times.

"Bubble-wrapped into tone deafness in a persistent, foghorn blast for its many sponsors every five minutes, rather than any quiet, measured acknowledgement of the suffering outside its gates," she wrote.

Last year's IPL was postponed due to India's number of Covid-19 cases and played exclusively in the UAE from September 19 to November 10.

After the first 20 matches played in Chennai and Mumbai, the IPL caravan has moved to Ahmedabad and Delhi for the next leg of games.