IPL's foreign cricket stars scramble to escape Covid-hit India
SYDNEY, MAY 5: Cricket authorities in Australia, New Zealand and England rushed to evacuate top players from Covid-hit India on Wednesday, after the lucrative Indian Premier League was abandoned following a number of positive tests.
Cricket Australia said plans were under way to fly 38 players and staff -- including superstars Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins -- to the relative safety of the Maldives or Sri Lanka in the next "two to three days".
Eight of England's 11 players arrived back in London, and New Zealand Cricket said it was arranging for its Test players to fly to Britain ahead of their series there and next month's World Test Championship final against India.
The Indian Premier League, the world's richest Twenty20 cricket tournament, was suspended on Tuesday after several cases popped up in the six-city tournament's bio-secure "bubble".
It left Australian cricketers in limbo, as they are banned from returning home until at least May 15 after Canberra shut its borders and threatened anyone entering from India with jail time.
The group is likely to be flown by charter flight back to Australia once the ban has been lifted, with the help of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
"The BCCI is working through arrangements to repatriate all the players, the support staff, and umpires commentators as quickly and safely as possible," said Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia's interim CEO.
They are "working to move the entire cohort out of India... the BCCI has been working on a range of options. That's now narrowed down to the Maldives and Sri Lanka".
The group departing India will not include 79-Test veteran Michael Hussey, the Chennai Super Kings batting coach, who has tested positive and will remain in isolation.
"He's in for a stint of isolation in his hotel room for at least 10 days, but he's in pretty good spirits," said Todd Greenberg, the Australian Cricketers' Association chief executive.
Warner posted a drawing of his family made by one of his daughters on Instagram, with a caption reading: "Please Daddy come home straight away. We miss you a lot and love you." It gathered almost 850,000 likes in a few hours.
Two more cricketers were confirmed as testing positive for coronavirus -- Delhi Capitals leg-spinner Amit Mishra and Sunrisers Hyderabad wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha.
New Zealand Cricket said it was trying to organise a charter to Britain for Test players Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Mitchell Santner, as well as three players signed to English county sides. -AFP