MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian cricketers Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson have left India on a charter plane after pulling out of the Indian Premier League amid growing concerns over the COVID-19 crisis in the south Asian nation.
Zampa and Richardson, team mates for Royal Challengers Bangalore, were expected home in Australia later on Thursday, a spokesman for the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), the players union, said.
There were concerns the pair were stranded after the Australian government suspended flights from India until May 15 to prevent virulent COVID-19 variants from entering the country.
About 40 Australians remain involved in the IPL as players, coaches, officials and commentators, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they would not be allowed to jump the queue for repatriation flights when they resume.
India recorded 360,960 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the world’s largest single-day total, and the death toll surged past 200,000 amid shortages of hospital beds and medical oxygen.
Zampa and Richardson, who bowl for Australia’s limited overs sides, were able to secure seats on a charter flight organised by another party, The Australian newspaper reported.
The ACA said on Wednesday it was having “conversations” with governing body Cricket Australia and the Australian government on how to repatriate cricketers from India at the end of the IPL.
The regular IPL season ends on May 23, with playoffs to follow before the final on May 30.
IPL organisers have faced mounting criticism from pundits and on social media for pushing ahead with the tournament which is being played in a biosecure bubble amid the health crisis.
A senior Indian cricket board official told Reuters on Wednesday the IPL would continue as it was providing solace and entertainment to people during hard times.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)