IPL 2021 Australian stars 'anxious' about getting home, says union

Two players remain stranded in India following Australia's decision to suspend flights from the Asian nation until May 15

Australians involved in the Indian Premier League are "anxious" about how they will get home from the tournament as Covid-19 cases continues to surge in India, but they are not looking for any "free rides", the head of the players' union said on Wednesday.

Three Australian players have pulled out of the IPL but two remain stranded in India following Australia's decision to suspend flights from the Asian nation until May 15.

Nearly 40 Australians, including star players Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins, remain involved in the IPL, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they would not be shown preferential treatment whenever repatriation flights resume.

"As you'd imagine, they're all pretty anxious," Australian Cricketers' Association chief executive Todd Greenberg told Sydney radio station 2GB.

"They're in probably one of the biggest hotspots that we've seen since Covid so we're just trying to make sure that they're all safe and secure and they can fulfil their commitments and ... we can get them home as soon as we can."

India recorded 323,144 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday and 2,771 deaths, taking the total death toll to 197,894, but the IPL is ploughing on despite the health crisis.

On Tuesday, the BCCI contacted all eight IPL franchises to assuage players' fears over safety and urged them to play on for "humanity" to provide entertainment for people during lockdown.

Former Australia fast bowler Andrew Tye, who was with the Rajasthan Royals, flew to Sydney on Sunday via Mumbai and Doha, citing the "stress of bubble life" and concerns about borders closing in Australia.

Tye's compatriots Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson, teammates for Royal Challengers Bangalore, had been unable to exit India, Greenberg confirmed.

"They're in a difficult position so we've got to try to find out some more information this morning," he said.

Batsman Chris Lynn, who plays for Mumbai Indians, said this week he had asked governing body Cricket Australia (CA) to arrange a charter flight to bring players home after IPL ends. The regular IPL season ends on May 23, with playoffs to follow before the final on May 30.

Greenberg said the players union was in "conversations" with CA and authorities about that option and would also look to work with IPL franchise owners on players' travel arrangements.

"Our players are under no expectations for looking for specific favours. There's no free rides," he said.

"What we're trying to do is work really closely with Cricket Australia and with government, just trying to get all the right information so we can fill them with some confidence that they will be taken care of at the right time."

Zampa said his decision to cut his IPL season short was about prioritising mental health over money.

"I feel like for anyone leaving halfway through a tournament, it's definitely a financial sacrifice," the 29-year-old told Nine Network newspapers. "But from my point of view I wanted to put my mental health first.

"Obviously the Covid situation over here is pretty dire.

"[There were] a few other things like bubble fatigue and the chance to get home, once all the news broke about the flights and everything."

CA said late on Tuesday it would continue to "liaise" with the Australian government and monitor the situation.

Published: April 28, 2021 10:04 AM

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