ESPNcricinfo understands that two other Australian cricketers have told their franchise that they want to go home
Andrew Tye, the Rajasthan Royals fast bowler, flew back to Australia on Sunday to avoid the risk of not being able to return home, his exit coming even as India battles a severe wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, with over a million positive cases recorded in the past four days.*
Although both the BCCI and franchises have stressed that the IPL is secure because it’s being organised in a bio-secure environment without crowds, ESPNcricinfo understands that some players, especially the overseas contingents, are anxious about the situation, which Ricky Ponting, the Delhi Capitals coach, has called “quite grim”.
At least two other Australian players have informed their franchise as of Sunday morning that they would look to return home at the first opportunity, in terms of flight availability. Last week the Australian government said it would reduce the number of permitted flights arriving from India by 30% and there are suggestions further restrictions could be introduced. The franchise concerned is yet to respond to our query on the matter.
“There was a number of reasons [for leaving], but the main one was with the situation that has started to happen back home in Perth with a lot of cases in hotel quarantine coming out of India,” Tye told SEN radio from Doha on Monday as he transited onto a flight to Sydney. “Now there’s been a community case in Perth governments are trying to restrict numbers coming back in, especially Western Australia.”
“I just thought to try and get on the front foot and get home before I got locked out of the country. It’s been a long time in bubbles and hubs – doing the calculations earlier, think I’ve had 11 days at home out of the bubble since August, so for me I just wanted to get home.
David Hussey, an assistant coach with the Kolkata Knight Riders, opened up on the subject to the Sydney Morning Herald. “Everyone’s sort of a bit nervous about whether they can get back into Australia. I dare say there’ll be a few other Australians a bit nervous about getting back into Australia,” he said.
“There’s definitely concerns [from the Australians],” Tye said. “A lot of guys have been in touch today once they realised I was leaving. Some of the guys are very interested in what route I took home and other guys are just happy to make sure I’m okay. Not sure if I’ll be the only one.”
“They are having over 300,000 cases a day and they are only the ones being reported, we know there’s probably a lot more than that number who can’t get tested. Yes, the IPL and BCCI have done an amazing job of keeping us safe but at the same time it’s tough and you also feel bad for the amount of people out there with Covid and we are still able to play cricket.”
On Monday, Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association issued a joint statement.
“Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association remain in regular contact with Australian players, coaches and commentators taking part in the Indian Premier League, which is being conducted under strict biosecurity protocols,” they said.
“We will continue to listen to feedback from those on the ground in India and the advice of the Australian Government. Our thoughts are with the people of India at this difficult time.”
Tye is the second Royals player to leave the IPL for home after Englishman Liam Livingstone went back last week. Livingstone had cited “bubble fatigue” as the reason, just days before the UK announced it was putting India on the red list of countries barring inbound passengers from the country except locals who would need to quarantine at paid facilities.
Tye had been retained by the Royals, but didn’t play in any of their first five games of the ongoing season.
With inputs from Raunak Kapoor
1.00am GMT, April 26 – the story was updated with Tye’s comments on radio
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo