Eight England players have returned to London after the abrupt suspension of the Indian Premier League (IPL), with tournament organizers planning an airlift for the Australian cohort stranded in the Maldives or Sri Lanka.
Just hours after the lucrative cricket league was halted on Tuesday due to the COVID-19 crisis in India, English members of the Delhi Capitals Squad flew from Ahmedabad to Delhi and boarded a flight to Heathrow.
John and Bairstow, Jose Butler, Sam Billings, Chris Vokes, Moin Ali, Jason Roy and Curran brothers Sam and Tom landed on Wednesday morning, an England spokesman told Reuters.
“They are now detained in government-approved hotels,” he said.
He said England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, batsman David Malan and all-rounder Chris Jordan would leave India in the next 48 hours.
Thirty-eight Australian players, coaches, umpires and media pundits will have to wait longer to go home in the wake of a ban from arriving from India until at least May 15.
Cricket Australia said it planned to bring them out of the pandemic-hit country by a chartered flight “in the next two or three days”.
“BCCI is working to move the entire team to India, where they will wait until they return to Australia,” CA Acting Chief Executive Nick Hockley told reporters in Sydney.
“It has now been reduced to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
The CA official declined to speculate as to whether the league could reopen this year.
“I think it’s too early to speculate about that,” he said.
“Right now, the BCCI is very focused on getting all the players home safely, not just the Australians.”
Chennai Super Kings Australian batting coach Mike Hussey will return to India to complete his detention after a Kovid-19 positive test.
Players union boss Todd Greenberg said cricketers were “under tremendous pressure” in India.
“People see our best Australian cricketers as almost superheroes … but they are human beings,” said the Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive.
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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has promised safe routes to players and officials, while New Zealand cricket says all its players are alone in team hotels in India.
NZC spokesman Captain Kane Williamson and many of his teammates have already been booked to join the rest of the Test squad in England next month.
“We have not yet received the finalized details. We are now working with the ECB (English Cricket Board) and the BCCI to arrange flights to England,” the spokesman said.
New Zealand players’ union boss Heath Mills cricketers said they were “very anxious now and very eager to get home.”
“They are working with their IPL franchises and some franchises are good at helping and others are not helping,” Mills told the media.