Paul Reiffel, the Australian umpire officiating in the Indian Premier League, has been unable to leave India despite expressing an intent to cut short his stint.
The Australian government's imposition of a travel ban on flights to and from India in the wake of the rising COVID-19 cases here led to him being unable to leave the bubble after initial information suggested that he has made the move.
"I tried to, but the flight through Doha, I wasn't able to go through as an Australian," Reiffel told the 'Herald' and 'The Age' on Thursday from his hotel in Ahmedabad.
"They shut the avenue off. I know a couple of the guys got back that way through there, but the avenue was closed so I had to stay. Yesterday, I was booked to go, but it got cancelled," he said.
Reiffel will, therefore, now go back only after the end of the tournament on May 30. "I was 10 minutes away from leaving the bubble, so I'm very lucky," Reiffel said.
India's top umpire Nitin Menon has pulled out of the ongoing IPL after his family was struck by a couple of COVID-19 cases, while his Australian counterpart Paul Reiffel's attempts at leaving hit a dead end because of his country's suspension of air travel with India.
It is learnt that Menon, a resident of Indore, has left the IPL bio-bubble after his wife and mother tested positive for COVID-19. Menon is the only Indian in the ICC elite panel of umpires and was recently praised for his work during India's home series against England.
"Yes, Nitin has left as his immediate family members have COVID-19 and he is currently not in a mental state to conduct games," a BCCI official told PTI.
Menon is the second Indian to pull out of the tournament after off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who also went home after all his family members tested positive.
Three Australians Andrew Tye, Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa left home due to the unprecedented health crisis in India.
However, the BCCI is going ahead with the tournament and interim CEO Hemang Amin has assured all players and support staff that they remain safe in the bio-bubble. BCCI is likely to replace Menon with an umpire from its own pool of umpires.
With inputs from PTI