Australia’s highest-profile cricketers have been stuck in limbo since the Indian travel ban but could be among the first citizens to return home.
Australia’s top cricketers may be home by Sunday as a plan for them leave the Maldives and quarantine in Sydney starts to take shape, according to reports.
Players and coaches taking part in the Indian Premier League (IPL) fled to the Maldives when the lucrative T20 tournament was suspended because of the country’s worsening COVID-19 crisis, and they were expected to be trapped in limbo until at least May 15.
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison had announced a travel ban for Australians to and from India as it experienced a horrifying surge in coronavirus cases that placed huge strain on its medical resources.
Morrison confirmed Australia’s cricketers wouldn’t be given any special treatment and would be subject to the travel ban, even as Chris Lynn inquired about the prospect of Cricket Australia chartering a private jet to fly the players home.
The players get paid handsomely to play in the IPL and some were on contracts worth millions of dollars, including Glenn Maxwell ($2.52m), Riley Meredith ($1.42m) and Jhye Richardson ($2.48m).
The Aussie contingent managed to get out of India last week but because they couldn’t go home, headed for the Maldives to wait for the travel ban — which came with threats of fines and jail time — to end.
The Australian reports CA has come to an arrangement with the NSW government that will see the players quarantine in several hotels across Sydney upon their return, which is now possible after Morrison confirmed the Indian travel ban would end on May 15.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India promised it would get all overseas players home safely when the IPL was suspended, and the BCCI will reportedly pay the costs associated with flying the Australians home.
There are still approximately 8000 Australian citizens trapped in India, who will be eligible to return home on repatriation flights commencing after the May 15 deadline. However, whether they are able to come back as soon as our cricketers remains to be seen.
It will no doubt cause some awkward consternation if they remain stuck overseas while batsmen and bowlers are arriving Down Under, given how rare and expensive seats on planes have proven to be during the pandemic.
At a press conference last week, interim CA boss Nick Hockley downplayed any suggestions the players and coaches would receive special treatment.
“We’re not seeking any kinds of special exemptions whatsoever,” he said. “Any kind of quarantine arrangements would be over and above the cap.
“So our main priority is we would work with the Australian government and the relevant state governments to make sure that we’re not taking spaces off anyone else that’s available.”
Former Australian Test star Mike Hussey was working as a batting coach for the Chennai Super Kings and became the first Australian in the IPL bubble to contract coronavirus, testing positive last week.
Meanwhile, fast bowler Pat Cummins had earlier donated $50,000 to help India’s “PM Cares Fund”, specifically to purchase oxygen supplies for hospitals.