Charter flight to return Australian cricketers after IPL in India, it is being discussed, the country’s players’ union said on Wednesday, even when Sports Minister Richard Kolbeck made it clear that such a move had not yet been authorized by the Down Under government.
The head of the Australian Cricket Association (ACA) Todd Greenberg said that Cricket Australia will talk to the owners of the IPL franchise under this contract, but admitted that it will not be just something.
“This is one of the conversations we’re having with Cricket Australia right now about whether it’s something available to us,” Greenberg was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald on 2GB radio.
“We can also work with all the owners of the Premier League franchises who effectively negotiate the players. There will certainly be a conversation about that,” he added.
“They’re not as simple to organize as you’d imagine. If we can try to find a seamless approach to taking them home, that’s something between us and CA and our players that we’re going to work on.”
BCCI has already assured foreign IPL rookies that their safe return home will be their responsibility after the tournament ends on May 30. India is facing an explosion of COVID-19 cases and the country’s health infrastructure is seriously burdened with dealing with daily calculations of new cases.
“Rest assured that the tournament is not over for BCCI until each of you reaches home, healthy and healthy,” Indian Council Chief Operating Officer Heman Amin said in a letter to players on Tuesday.
Any such charter flight will require approval from the Australian government, and Kolbeck said no decision has been made yet.
“No decisions have yet been made on (charter flight approval for) cricketers,” Kolbeck told ABC radio.
“One of the reasons for the break was to quarantine the hotel because of the load we saw outside India,” he said.
As a second wave of COVID-19 infections hit India, the Australian government on Tuesday suspended air travel with the country, in addition to asking players to make “own arrangements” for return.
Mumbai Indian Australian batsman Chris Lynn also said he hoped Cricket Australia would organize a charter flight for those left behind.
Currently, IPL still has 14 Australian players, including big names like Steve Smith (Delhi Capitals), David Warner (SunRisers Hyderabad) and Cummins.
Ricky Ponting (DC) and Simon Katic (Royal Challengers Bangalore) are among the top Australian coaches, while iconic former players such as Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee and Lisa Stalecard are part of the tournament’s comment team.
However, the head of the ACA said that the players will not ask for preferential treatment and will skip the queue if and when the Australian government evacuates its citizens from India. About 9,000 Australians are in India trying to return home.
“One thing I can tell you is that our players don’t expect to look for specific services,” Greenberg said.
“There are no free rides or expectations from our players. What they are looking for is the right information so they can plan accordingly.
Greenberg said most players feel “really comfortable” in the tournament’s biosafety bubble and intend to end their engagement.
However, they remain understandably restless about what will happen after the final.
“They’re all pretty worried. They’re in one of the biggest hotspots we’ve seen since COVID. They’re very worried about going home at the end.
“But they are also worried about how beautiful India has been … and they see such devastation.”