No queue-jumping for IPL players trying to return home, says Australian PM after India flights suspended

Published April 27, 2021
Three Australian cricketers have already cut short their IPL season to head home but a number of top players remain, including test stalwarts Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins. — AFP/ File
Three Australian cricketers have already cut short their IPL season to head home but a number of top players remain, including test stalwarts Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins. — AFP/ File

Australia will not prioritise its Indian Premier League (IPL) cricketers for repatriation from India, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday, as the Asian nation continues to battle a massive surge in Covid-19 infections.

Three Australian cricketers have already cut short their IPL season to head home but a number of top players remain, including test stalwarts Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins.

Several Australians, including former test captain Ricky Ponting, are also involved in the IPL as coaches.

Australia on Tuesday suspended direct flights from India until at least May 15 to prevent more virulent Covid-19 strains entering the country, and Morrison said the cricketers would not be allowed to jump the queue for repatriation flights when they resume.

"It's done on vulnerability," Morrison told reporters.

"They travelled there privately under those arrangements, this wasn't part of an Australian tour.

"They're under their own resources and they'll be using those resources to, I'm sure, see them return to Australia."

Batsman Chris Lynn said he had asked governing body Cricket Australia (CA) to arrange a charter flight to bring players home at the end of the IPL.

"I texted ... that as Cricket Australia make 10 per cent of every IPL contract was there a chance we could spend that money this year on a charter flight once the tournament is over?" Lynn, who plays for Mumbai Indians, told News Corp media.

"We are not asking for shortcuts and we signed up knowing the risks. But it would be great to get home as soon as the event is over."

CA declined to comment.

The regular season ends on May 23, with playoffs to follow before the final on May 30.

'India in chaos'

India's coronavirus death toll neared the bleak milestone of 200,000 with another 2,771 fatalities reported on Tuesday, while its armed forces pledged urgent medical aid to help battle the staggering spike in infections.

The IPL is being played under biosecurity protocols and Lynn said he felt comfortable in the environment and had no immediate plans to leave.

"Obviously India is in chaos at the moment. But we are at least giving people something to smile about by playing the tournament," he added.

Eoin Morgan, one of 11 England players in the IPL, said they were constantly talking about the situation outside the bubble.

"It's not nice to watch from afar, considering how lucky we are in a bubble and not be affected by it very much," Morgan told reporters. "We lend our support ... to everybody who is ill or going through tough times."

New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills said none of their players had asked to go home.

"There's no doubt they're certainly anxious about what's happening in India and what they're witnessing. But they feel well looked-after by their IPL franchises and safe in their bubbles," Mills said.

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