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Indian Premier League 2021

IPL 2021: Why are overseas players fleeing IPL?

Ricky Ponting has called the situation “quite grim”.

IPL 2021: Why are overseas players fleeing IPL?
Foreign players are slowly but surely caving in (File photo)

Rahul Kargal

Updated: 26 April 2021 8:31 AM GMT

The past twenty-four hours have witnessed a string of announcements pertaining to overseas players in the IPL.

First, it was Andrew Tye pulling out on late Sunday evening, and then on Monday morning, it was the turn of fellow Australians Richardson and Zampa.

Clearly, a sense of anxiety prevails in the bio-bubbles that house these cricketers.

Ricky Ponting, the Delhi coach, did admit that the players are aware that their families are 'outside' and vulnerable while they remain safe in their respective bio-bubbles.

"It is really important, we are thinking about the extended family, not just us, but we've got to be talking about what's happening outside because it is quite grim," he said.

While the respective franchises do their best to keep their players in the best possible frame of mind, players from Australia and England have over the past week opted to fly back home.

But what triggered this exodus?

The Perth cluster

Perth, Australia's fourth-largest city is currently in the midst of a three-day lockdown that ends on April 27. The city of more than 2 million people is on alert after a man emerged from a 14-day quarantine, flew to Melbourne thereafter, and then tested positive.

Authorities later found out that the man, while staying at a designated Perth quarantine hotel, was infected by a couple staying in an adjacent room who had incidentally returned from a wedding in India.

Rigorous contact tracing and testing are now underway in the city.

These developments have clearly spooked the Aussie cricketers in the IPL and understandably so.

Speaking to Doha's SEN radio, Andrew Tye threw some light on his decision.

"There was a number of reasons [for leaving], but the main one was with the situation that has started to happen back home in Perth with a lot of cases in hotel quarantine coming out of India."

"Now there's been a community case in Perth, governments are trying to restrict numbers coming back in, especially Western Australia," he added.

In its latest travel advisory as of April 26, the Australian Government has issued a "do not travel" status pertaining to India.

Cricket Australia, meanwhile is playing the waiting game and released a statement to that effect.

"Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association remain in regular contact with Australian players, coaches and commentators taking part in the Indian Premier League, which is being conducted under strict biosecurity protocols. We will continue to listen to feedback from those on the ground in India and the advice of the Australian Government. Our thoughts are with the people of India at this difficult time," said the CA media release.

That said, according to Kolkata Knight Riders assistant coach David Hussey, the tension amongst the Australians in the IPL is palpable.

"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 said to the Sydney Morning Herald.

While David works with Kolkata, his brother Michael is associated with Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2021 (File photo)

The English retreat

Last week, Englishman Liam Livingstone, moved out of the Rajasthan Royals camp while citing 'bubble-fatigue.'

On April 24, India made it to UK's travel red list which in effect bans entry of travelers from India into the country.

Per the advisory, British and Irish nationals and long-term UK residents returning home must undergo a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine.

These measures were employed after the country's Public Health England (PHE) confirmed 55 more cases of the double mutant Indian variant, B.1.617, from all coronavirus cases tracked until April 14. The variant has now taken the total for the Variant Under Investigation (VUI) in the UK to 132.

Livingstone, clearly, was looking to get back home before things took a turn for the worse.

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