Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa have arrived back in Australia after the pair narrowly avoided being stuck in India following the federal government’s flight ban.
Royal Challengers Bangalore this week confirmed the pair had withdrawn from the Indian Premier League in order to head home, the news coming less than 24 hours before Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a pause on all direct flights from India due to a devastating surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
There had been concerns that Richardson and Zampa may not be able to make it home given the ban, but they landed in Melbourne on Thursday afternoon having caught a connecting flight out of Doha.
They will now spend the next two weeks in hotel quarantine.
Australian umpire Paul Reiffel told Nine Newspapers that he had his bags packed and was also ready to fly home on Wednesday, but was unable to get a flight. Having not left the bio-secure IPL bubble, he is now expected to officiate for the remainder of the tournament.
There are around 40 other Australian players, commentators, match officials and coaches involved in the IPL who are now not able to return to Australia, should they want to, for the next few weeks. The suspension of all flights from India will remain in place until at least May 15, two weeks before the tournament’s final.
Rajasthan Royals fast bowler Andrew Tye flew out of India on Sunday, before the flight ban, having taken a commercial flight to Sydney.
There were more than 3,000 reported deaths in India on Wednesday from COVID-19 and the total reported fatalities from the virus is more than 200,000, but it is believed the actual figures are higher.
Hemang Amin, the chief executive of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, wrote to players this week, telling them to “rest assured that the tournament is not over for BCCI till each one of you has reached your home, safe and sound.”
Zampa, who did not play for RCB in his stint with Virat Kohli-led side, had cited bubble fatigue and the spread of the virus as reasons for his early exit.
“Obviously the COVID situation over here is pretty dire,” Zampa told Nine.
“I just felt, rocking up to training and stuff, obviously, I wasn’t playing in the team as well, I was going to training and I wasn’t finding the motivation.”
Zampa also labelled the IPL bubble “vulnerable”, but both RCB teammate Dan Christian and Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting have lauded the strict measures in place for the tournament.
“All the hotel staff had to isolate for 14 days before we even got here,” Christian, who will head to England to play for Nottinghamshire after the IPL, told the Grade Cricketer podcast.
“All our bus drivers, pilots for the planes we’re on, they all had to do that isolating and regular testing. It’s pretty secure, and no expense spared as you can image in this tournament.”
Christian had been part of the Pakistan Super League earlier this year until it was postponed due to a breach of the tournament’s bio bubble, which led to Australian Fawad Ahmed contracting the virus.
Ponting said there was a “strange feeling” around the Delhi team while the pandemic took its toll in India.
“We are very aware of what is happening outside and through greater India at the moment,” the former Test captain said after the Capitals’ one-run loss to RCB this week.
“Obviously our hearts go out to every single person in India who is struggling with what is happening.
“Hopefully there are people around India who have got some enjoyment out of watching a great game of IPL cricket.”
Australian Cricketers’ Association chief Todd Greenberg confirmed the players’ union were in talks with Cricket Australia about arranging a charter flight for the IPL contingent at the end of the tournament, should the flight ban be lifted as planned on May 15.
But Greenberg noted there is no…