With the second wave of the pandemic ravaging India, and cases hitting new peaks by the day, there is mounting fear among the Australian cricket contingent featuring in the Indian Premier League. Though none of the big names are likely to abort their participation and return home in panic, there is considerable scepticism in many of them, according to a report in The Age.
Some of them are getting “twitchy,” according to former Australian batsman and Kolkata Knight Riders assistant coach David Hussey. “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 told The Age.
One of their worst fears is Australia shutting the border to passengers from India to the country, which has witnessed a sharp decline in the past few months but is highly wary of the double mutant strain that’s widely considered responsible for the second wave in India. The newspaper, though, claimed negotiations have begun on how to ferry the Australian cricketers and support staff back home.
“Talks are afoot to organise a chartered flight for Australian players and coaches from India at the conclusion of the tournament… Talks had started to allow players to get back easily enough at the end of the tournament,” it said.
There are as many as 17 Australian cricketers featuring in the IPL including big names such as Pat Cummins, David Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell, besides coaches and support staff like Ricky Ponting and David Hussey.
Though the IPL bio-bubble has been more or less secure, with those inside it getting tested every other day, they could not but be affected by the prevailing mood in India, one that of disillusion. Hussey said that every day they hear about relatives or friends of their Indian teammates or support staff getting infected or dying. “A couple of players, their fathers have passed away. One person, in particular, he’s one of the staff members with us, and his father passed away last year from COVID, and he was really pragmatic by saying it was his time to go,” he said.
No matter how hard they try to shut themselves from the outside world, they cannot escape the news and images circulating in the media. “It is on the radar. It’s on the news every minute of the day. You see people in hospital beds. It puts a lot of things in perspective. We actually discussed after the game last night, how lucky we are to play the game and try to entertain people around the world. Everyone’s pretty nervous about what’s going on over here, but they’re also pragmatic,” Hussey said.
One of the Australians, Rajasthan Royals’ Andrew Tye, has already left for home, citing personal reasons. Compatriot Billy Stanlake refused a contract with Chennai Super Kings as Josh Hazlewood’s last-minute replacement, reportedly due to the direness of the situation in India.
However, Hussey said that he and Kolkata Knight Riders are keen to continue their participation in the tournament. “From a Kolkata point of view, we’re desperate for the tournament to keep going, purely because everyone’s in lockdown, there’s not much else to do,” he said.
IPL can bring joy to people: Ponting
Ricky Ponting, the Delhi Capitals coach said he feels that the IPL can “bring a lot of joy” to people in India, speaking to DC’s media team.
“We right now are probably the safest people in the country being in the bubbles that we are in. Continually I’m asking the boys at breakfast every day how’s everything going on the outside…We’ve got to be talking about what’s happening outside because it is quite grim,” Ponting said.
“Even with the country being in a situation that it is, I think cricket can still bring a lot of joy to people,” he said.