Australians in IPL will not be prioritised for return home, says PM

SYDNEY (Agencies): Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the country’s cricketers who are currently competing in the Indian Premier League will not be prioritised for a return home.

Australia has suspended direct flights from India, which is struggling with a surge in coronavirus cases, until at least 15 May. “It’s done on vulnerability,” said Morrison. “They (players) travelled there privately under those arrangements, this wasn’t part of an Australia tour.”

Morrison added: “They’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources to, I’m sure, see them return to Australia.” Australian players Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson have already returned home from the IPL, which is being played under biosecurity protocols.

However, compatriots including Pat Cummins, Steve Smith, David Warner, Chris Lynn and Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting remain in India where more than a million Covid-19 cases have been recorded in just a few days.

Mumbai Indians batsman Lynn said he had asked Cricket Australia to arrange a charter flight back home for Australia’s players at the end of the IPL after the governing body had contacted players about their health and travel plans.

“I texted back that, as Cricket Australia make 10% 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 told News Corp.

“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.” The league format of the tournament ends on 23 May before the play-offs and the final, which is on 30 May.

England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, who is skipper of Kolkata Knight Riders, says the tournament should continue as long as it does not hamper the efforts to combat Covid-19. New Zealand also has a number of players taking part in the IPL, including Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Mitchell Santner.

“There’s no doubt they’re certainly anxious about what’s happening in India and what they’re witnessing,” said New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills. “But they feel well looked-after by their IPL franchises and safe in their bubbles.”