Umpire Reiffel stays put in IPL as Australia flight ban takes effect
- Reiffel, an ICC Elite Panel umpire who is an IPL regular, had packed his bags to fly home due to the fear of being locked out of his country after Australia banned flights from India until May 15.
Having made up his mind to quit IPL 2021 mid-way due to the surge in Covid-19 cases in India, Australian umpire Paul Reiffel could have been stranded outside the league’s bio-bubble. “I was 10 minutes away from leaving the bubble, so I’m very lucky,” the former Australia pacer told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Reiffel, an ICC Elite Panel umpire who is an IPL regular, had packed his bags to fly home due to the fear of being locked out of his country after Australia banned flights from India until May 15.
First, his flight was cancelled. The next day, minutes before moving out of his Ahmedabad hotel, he was told the borders were shut for Australians in India. “I tried to, but the flight through Doha, I wasn’t able to go through as an Australian. They shut the avenue off… I thought I’d take the opportunity when I could because you don’t know what’s going to happen later on.”
Australian bowlers in Royal Challengers Bangalore, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson, had decided earlier they wanted to leave, moved out of the team bubble and checked into a Mumbai hotel. “Because they had made their travel plans before the Australian advisory came, they could take the transit flight to Doha late on Tuesday night before reaching home,” an IPL official said.
Reiffel, who last officiated in the Punjab Kings-Kolkata Knight Riders match on Monday, will continue with his IPL assignments until India-Australia flights resume. Reiffel spoke of the grim mood in India. “It’s a whole lot quieter than usual, it’s a bit unusual for India. There’s still people about but it’s very quiet, there’s a lot of people at home. It’s hard to tell what life’s like. It’s just the hotel and cricket.”
Rajasthan Royals pacer Andrew Tye who flew home to Australia spoke of the mental agony living in the bio-bubble. “Inside the bubble it’s incredibly safe and we are very well looked after,” he told BBC. “It’s just the craziness of what's going on outside of it, which we get incredibly well sheltered from, that’s a bit harrowing. You’re almost cut off, it’s weird. I found in a way that I sort of lost touch with the outside world.”
Leading Australia players like Pat Cummins, David Warner and Steve Smith have decided to play on in IPL while Marnus Labuschagne, who went unsold in the auction, says, “It certainly looks like (missing out on IPL) it was a blessing in disguise,” he was quoted as saying by PA Media.
Zampa, in a statement, said: “Thanks to everyone for the messages of concern. Kane and I have reached Melbourne safe and sound. Firstly, thanks to RCB management for the way they dealt with the situation. As soon as we made the choice that we felt the right thing to do was to come home, they were fully supportive and did everything they could to help… Secondly, my comments about the vulnerability of the IPL bubble had nothing to do with feeling like the virus would enter the bubble at any stage. BCCI and RCB had many precautions to make us feel safe. I believe the tournament is in great hands and will definitely see the finish line. I understand the velocity of the situation in India and my thoughts go out to the whole country.”
Match referee, Manu Nayyar, left the IPL bio-bubble following his mother’s death.