With over three lakh fresh cases and more than 2,000 daily deaths, the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the country to its core. But the Indian Premier League (IPL) seems to be oblivious of the whole scenario as the lucrative Twenty-20 franchise-based cricket league is going on unabated.
The crisis outside the IPL’s bio-bubble has led to some talk about whether it is appropriate for the league to go on and whether the organizers and participating players should be doing more to express empathy. Even if the players are said to be safe within the bio-bubble, the fear of whether the players will be able to travel back home has gripped many of the foreign players in the league.
The fear of being locked out of their own nation drove the likes of Andrew Tye to take an early flight back to Australia while Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa also exited their franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore’s bio-bubble to head back home.
But the BCCI seems in no hurry to put off the show. Instead, they quickly stepped in to assuage apprehensions of IPL’s foreign recruits, especially Australians, after the government Down Under suspended air travel with the country besides asking players to make their “own arrangements” for return.
A day later, Australia announced that it was suspending air travel to and from India till May 15, the BCCI wrote to the foreign players that their safe return home will be its responsibility once the tournament ends on May 30.
“We understand that many of you are apprehensive about how you will get back home once the tournament concludes… We want to apprise you that you have nothing to worry about,” BCCI COO Hemang Amin said in a letter addressed to the players.
“The BCCI will do everything to ensure that you reach your respective destinations seamlessly. The BCCI is monitoring the situation very closely and is working with the government authorities to make arrangements to get you home once the tournament concludes.
“Be rest assured that the tournament is not over for BCCI till each one of you has reached your home, safe and sound,” he added.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison ruled out any government assistance and said that those in the IPL will have to make their own arrangements for a return.
“They have traveled there privately. This wasn’t part of an Australian tour. They’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources too,” Morrison was quoted as saying.
Oz spinner Zampa expressed his fear.
“We’ve been in a few (bubbles) now, and I feel like this is probably the most vulnerable. The IPL that was held in Dubai six months ago didn’t feel that way at all,” he told the ‘Sydney Morning Herald. “Personally, I feel like that would have been a better option originally for this IPL but obviously, there’s a lot of political stuff that goes into it,” he added.
However, some of the Oz players came forward to help India fight this war. On Monday, Kolkata Knight Riders’ Australian pacer Pat Cummins, donated $ 50,000 to the Indian government, hoping that it would inspire more to contribute.
As of now, the IPL still has 14 Australian players, including big names like Steve Smith (Delhi Capitals), David Warner (SunRisers Hyderabad), and Cummins. Ricky Ponting (DC) and Simon Katich (Royal Challengers Bangalore) are among the high-profile Australian coaches, while iconic former players such as Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee, and Lisa Sthalekar are part of the tournament’s commentary team.
However, no concerns have so far been publicly expressed by the IPL’s England and New Zealand players.
Meanwhile, senior Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin became the first Indian player to take a break from the IPL, saying that his family is currently “putting up a fight against Covid-19” and he wants to support them.
Written By- Archie Little, He is a sports journalist for the last two decades who has worked with almost all the leading media houses of the country.