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Aussies in IPL eye Maldives route home after league is halted

According to media reports in Australia, the IPL contingent from the country is going to follow the route taken by commentator Michael Slater and fly to Maldives.
(From left: Pat Cummins, Steve Smith and Ricky Ponting)(Twitter)
Published on May 05, 2021 07:12 AM IST

Foreign players in the Indian Premier League will spend sleepless nights after being left stranded in India following the postponement of the Twenty20 league on Tuesday. As part of steps taken to control possible Covid-19 transmission from people travelling from India, many countries have adopted different protocols, ranging from quarantine to a complete ban on entry.

While most countries allow their residents to enter after serving quarantine, Australian citizens will have a tough time figuring out a way to travel home. There is a blanket ban on the entry of Australian citizens who have recently been in India, until at least May 15. The Australian government has said those flouting the rule could face five years in jail or a $66,000 fine.

Australian PM Scott Morrison though told the local media on Tuesday that jail terms are unlikely. Amid harsh criticism of the government over a possible jail term, Morrison said it was “highly unlikely”. He added: “I think the likelihood of any of that occurring is pretty much zero.”

Cricket Australia and Australian Cricketers’ Association issued a joint statement saying they would not be seeking preferential treatment for the players. “CA and the ACA respect the decision of the Australian Government to pause travel from India…,” the statement said.

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“CA is in direct contact with the BCCI as they work through plans to ensure the safe accommodation and repatriation of Australian players, coaches, match officials and commentators back home.”

ACA chief Todd Greenberg had earlier said there was no definite plan on how their travel could be arranged in the circumstances. “They do want to see the tournament finished, but they also clearly want to come home at the end, and that’s where the concern comes because there’s just not a definitive plan on how that’s going to happen at the moment,” Greenberg had said on Radio 2GB.

There is a heavy presence of Australian players, coaches and commentators in the tournament, including Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Ricky Ponting. They are figuring out a way to spend till May 15 at a safer destination in a country with no travel restrictions in flying to Australia.

According to media reports in Australia, the IPL contingent from the country is going to follow the route taken by commentator Michael Slater and fly to Maldives. Australian citizens can get visa on arrival in Maldives, a tourist paradise in the Indian Ocean, and stay there while their government figures out steps on travel.

After reaching Maldives, Slater had blasted Australian PM Scott Morrison, tweeting that he had “blood on your hands” for closing the borders to Australians citizens trying to return home. Morrison’s media comments on Tuesday thus sounds reconciliatory.

The Indian cricket board (BCCI), IPL and franchises have reassured the foreign players and support staff of a safe return home.

Ranjit Barthakur, executive chairman of Royal Multisport Pvt. Ltd., the company that owns Rajasthan Royals, assured his foreign players on their travel. “It’s being worked out. Arrangements are being made in scheduled flights and chartered flights. BCCI and the franchises are in touch with embassies. It will be sorted out. Everybody is cooperating,” he said.

Another franchise official said: “All options, from transporting players of different nationalities across franchises together to countries where direct chartered flights are possible, to helping fly players to transit venues where they can complete necessary period of quarantine before returning home are being looked at.”

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s David Warner, whose teammate Wriddhiman Saha has tested positive, shared on Instagram a picture his daughter Ivy drew with the message: “Please Daddy come home straight away. We miss you a Lott and love you. Love from Ivy, Indi and Isla.”

The Sunrisers’ team is coached by Australians Trevor Bayliss and Tom Moody (director of cricket). Apart from SRH, some players or staff members from Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals have also tested positive for Covid-19, following which the players have been sent into a four-day lockdown.

Cricket South Africa, in a statement said that South African players and coaches travelling back “will undergo home quarantine in line with the current World Health Organization recommendations.”

New Zealand Cricket said it is too early to discuss potential options (for the travel of citizens returning from India). “We’ll continue to liaise with the BCCI, the ECB and New Zealand government authorities in terms of managing their situation - but at this juncture it’s too early to discuss potential options,” read an NZC statement on 'ESPNcricinfo'.

New Zealand have a 14-day quarantine for citizens returning from India. Those from the UK, will have to quarantine for 10 days at a government-approved hotel and test on days two and eight. For travel to Bangladesh, only the land border is open and citizens will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

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