Australia’s vice-captain Pat Cummins and other members of the Kolkata squad are in self-isolation after two teammates contracted the coronavirus, forcing Indian Premier League organizers to postpone a match.
The Kolkata Knight riders were due to face the royal challenges from Bangalore to Ahmedabad on Monday night, but this match will not go as planned. Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier from Calcutta have tested positive for Covid-19, but their teammates have returned negative tests so far.
It is understood that Cummins, whose IPL contract is worth around $ 3.1 million, is currently in good health and has no symptoms. But the paceman star now faces daily testing and a nervous wait as India’s cricket control board seeks to control the outbreak.
The bubble breach will set off new alarms for BCCI bigwigs as well as officials at Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association. This IPL season, scheduled until May 31, is played out in front of empty stands and against the backdrop of the second deadly wave of Covid-19 in India.
There is no indication that the Twenty20 tournament will be suspended, as was the case with the Pakistani Super League earlier this year after several players contracted the virus.
But if the situation deteriorates and it does, Cummins and other members of a squad of nearly 40 Aussie players, coaches and officials will be stranded in no man’s land.
The Australian federal government has yet to say whether a recently introduced ban on all inbound travelers from India could be extended, but it will last until at least May 15.
Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson fled the IPL last week and returned home, via Qatar, but any Australian who attempts the trip now faces jail time and fines.
Some optimistic Australian players are hoping commercial flights can resume by the end of the month, while others are bracing for contingency plans that involve a two-week layover in another country.
Cummins, which donated $ 50,000 last week to help India tackle its health crisis, is playing a central role in logistical discussions between stressed Australian cricketers, the Board and the ACA.
A potential charter flight, which is expected to be approved by the federal government, was part of those discussions. However, CA Managing Director Nick Hockley insisted Monday that “there are no suggestions at this time of a charter flight.”
“At the moment he is monitoring the situation and as the end of the tournament approaches we will have to see where the situation is,” Hockley told SEN.
The limited tour from Australia to the West Indies in June, with Cummins and other stars facing a tight turnaround if their return home is delayed, complicates matters.
The weeks ahead may seem particularly long for David Warner, who was the title-winning skipper and the face of Sunrisers Hyderabad, but who has now been abandoned and stripped of the captaincy of the last franchise.
Hyderabad, lastly, whose brain trust is led by Australians Tom Moody and Trevor Bayliss, recently installed Kane Williamson as skipper in an attempt to restart their season.
Sunrisers, who won his first IPL title under the Warner captain in 2016, doubled down by dropping Warner for Sunday’s game against Rajasthan.
Favoring Afghan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi over Warner, whose IPL contract is worth around $ 2.3 million, resulted in another loss while raising eyebrows around the world.
New Zealand great Dan Vettori called it mind-boggling, while fellow ESPNcricinfo expert Dale Steyn felt Warner may have played his last game for the franchise.
Head coach Bayliss has already hinted that Warner will not be rushed, signaling a desire to “give some guy opportunities and not just ignore them after a game or two”.
Moody admitted Warner was “shocked and disappointed”. “We would be disappointed if he didn’t feel that way,” said the Hyderabad cricket manager. “But he accepted logic.
CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association have partnered with Unicef Australia to raise funds in response to the health crisis in India. CA makes an initial donation of $ 50,000, the same amount Vice-Captain Cummins made last week.
“It has been painful and sad to learn of the suffering of so many of our Indian sisters and brothers,” said CA General Manager Nick Hockley.
Unicef Australia’s India Covid-19 Crisis Appeal purchases and installs oxygen equipment in hospitals to treat critically ill patients, provides testing equipment and “supports acceleration of deployment of Covid vaccination -19, ”the charity said.
Meanwhile, Virat Kohli’s IPL team, Royal Challengers Bangalore, are set to auction off a unique team kit to raise funds. “What is happening in our country with the spread of the Covid virus is of deep concern,” Kohli said.
A massive increase in Covid-19 cases has put enormous pressure on India’s healthcare system, with a shortage of hospital beds and oxygen supplies, and morgues and crematoriums flooded.
India reported 392,488 new cases of Covid on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 19.56 million. Deaths jumped from a record 3,689, bringing the overall toll to 215,542.
Amid the crisis, the Indian Premier League cricket tournament continued despite heavy criticism on social media. The Indian Cricket Council said the IPL will continue as planned with the final in Ahmedabad on May 30.