Australian vice-captain Pat Cummins said that Aussie IPL cricketers were shocked and anxious when they heard of the federal government ban on returning home.
The government decision was made with COVID-19 cases exploding across India, yet banning Australians from coming home was an unprecedented and controversial move.
Cummins had committed to playing out the remainder of the IPL, which on Tuesday was suspended due to positive coronavirus cases among players/staff at several franchises. Among them are Australian great Michael Hussey, who reportedly tested positive for coronavirus while working as a batting coach with Chennai Super Kings.
The IPL will likely resume and Cummins will again play on; but still, the travel ban hit hard.
“Yeah, it did a little bit,” Cummins, currently completing six day’ isolation in a hotel in Ahmedabad, said on The Back Page.
“Once we flew out of Australia, we knew we were signing up for 14 days quarantine coming home, so you always feel that little bit further away from getting home.
“As soon as the hard border shut, obviously no one has experienced that before. It added a bit of anxiety for a few of the Aussies over here. But we signed up to play the tournament until the start of June. Hopefully it all reopens on May 15 and we’ll be able to get back.”
Fellow Australian star David Warner showed how heart-wrenching it has been for some players in the IPL, posting a message from home from his daughter; “My gorgeous Ivy”.
“Please Daddy come home straight away. We miss you a lot and love you,” the message said.
While the cricketers’ concerns are trifling compared to those of the average Indian citizen, they are facing an uncertain length of time away from their families. Warner was recently stripped of the Hyderabad Sunrisers captaincy and his place in the team, compounding his frustrations.
A teammate of Warner’s, India wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, tested positive for COVID-19.
The IPL may be relocated entirely to Mumbai after its suspension, or it may face outright cancellation. Cummins said that perhaps the tournament should have been condensed to fewer locations by the Indian Premier League Governing Council and Board of Control for Cricket in India.
“Last year, we had the IPL held over in the UAE and that was an incredibly well-run tournament,” he said.
“This year, they tried to push it that little step further and have it over here in multiple cities in India. I’m sure looking back, they might have tweaked a few things.”
Cummins, who donated $50,000 towards COVID-19 relief amid a crisis that has recorded 20 million positive cases, said that cricketers in the IPL bubble were still lucky compared to most Indian citizens.
“It’s two different worlds. We’re lucky, we’re safe, we’re comfortable and there’s people just trying to get basic medical treatment,” Cummins said.
“I’ve been to India for 10 years but I still don’t know India as well of course as people that have lived here their whole lives. First thing was to find out whether us playing the IPL was the right thing and basically everyone said, we would be lost without the IPL for three or four hours every night.
“I’m just trying to do my bit. India’s been such a good country to me and cricketers.”
The travel ban controversy escalated on Monday when Australian cricket great Michael Slater, who was commentating on the IPL, said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison had “blood on his hands” for barring travel home. Slater has left India and is in the Maldives.
Australian player Andrew Tye left before the travel ban and returned home, while Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson were able to get around the ban by travelling through Qatar en route to Australia.
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