Australians Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson have joined countryman AJ Tye in withdrawing from the Indian Premier League as the Australian government reportedly considers a ban on all flights from India amid a deadly spike of coronavirus cases in the country.
On Sunday, Tye flew from Mumbai to Doha on his way to Sydney, the 34-year-old taking the chance to return home after Australia announced last week it will stop almost a third of flights from India due to the surge of coronavirus infections and deaths.
Australia’s National Security Committee of Cabinet will meet on Tuesday where a further reduction in flights from India will be considered. Nine Media and news.com.au are both reporting a complete ban will also be discussed.
On Monday afternoon, it was announced that Zampa and Richardson will return to Australia for “personal reasons”, less than 24 hours after Tye’s departure.
There are now 14 Australian players remaining in the IPL, including Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins, as well as a handful of coaches like Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich and commentators such as Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee and Michael Slater.
Paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile, who revealed he is being tested for the virus three times a day, told cricket.com.au he planned to stay with his Mumbai Indians franchise.
“Everyone’s got their own opinions on it and different situations for them,” Coulter-Nile told cricket.com.au from Delhi.
“I was surprised to see AJ go home, and then Zamps and Richo, but when you speak to them, you definitely understand where they’re coming from.
“I spoke to Zamps a little while ago and he made a very compelling argument for going home. But for me, I feel like it’s safer for me to stay in the bubble than try and get home at the moment.
“Especially with all the Australian and New Zealand players in the same boat as me at the moment, I feel like something’s got to give for getting home.
“I’m just going to wait and see how that plays out. Worst comes to worst, we’ll have to quarantine in Dubai for a couple of weeks before we can fly home. But I’m sure it will get sorted.”
Coulter-Nile, who said the impact of the pandemic on the local population was front and centre of players’ thoughts, added it was “very strange being in India and not having people screaming at you” with airports and streets empty during the country’s lockdown.
He added he has faith in the IPL’s biosecurity protocols.
“We have a rapid response test in the morning ahead of another test later in the day, and then one at night as well,” he said of the three-times-a-day testing.
“And that’s for everyone – players, staff, the people who do laundry, cleaners, everyone.
“In terms of testing, they are pretty onto it.
“I’m as confident (in the bubble) as you can be. All the protocols and measures are in place, I can’t think of anything more we could be doing. As long as everyone follows them – that’s the hardest bit, there’s a lot of moving parts – but if everyone does the right thing, we should be fine.”
The eight-team IPL started with matches in Chennai and Mumbai but the tournament is now scheduled to shift to the capital Delhi, the epicentre of the surge in cases.
The ABC is reporting that COVID-19 is currently killing one person every four minutes in Delhi.
On Sunday, almost 350,000 positive cases were officially recorded as well as 2767 deaths, the fourth-straight day of world record case numbers. The actual number of cases and COVID-related deaths is reportedly much higher than the official tallies.
Following his departure, Tye told SEN he had been contacted by other Australian players about how he managed to secure a flight home.
Between them, Zampa, Richardson and Tye had played just one game in the opening two weeks of the tournament.
While Australian players are officially on leave, Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association have been in touch with those currently in India.
A Nine Media report said there had been a discussion about organising a chartered flight back to Australia and while CA said no firm plans had been made about getting players home, the governing body will not leave players stranded.
“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,” a statement on Monday afternoon read.
“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.”
Indian spin star Ravichandran Ashwin also announced on Sunday he has departed his Delhi Capitals franchise to be with his family.
While the tournament is being played in a tightly controlled bio-secure bubble and no one inside that environment has returned a positive test since it began two weeks ago, Tye said he was “100 per cent” concerned about contracting the virus that is ravaging the country.
But he said fears that he wouldn’t be able to secure a safe passage home was the main driver behind his decision to leave early.
I would be taking a break from this years IPL from tomorrow. My family and extended family are putting up a fight against #COVID19 and I want to support them during these tough times. I expect to return to play if things go in the right direction. Thank you @DelhiCapitals 🙏🙏— Stay home stay safe! Take your vaccine🇮🇳 (@ashwinravi99) April 25, 2021
Tye’s home state of Western Australia has announced their cap on international arrivals will be halved for the next month and its premier, Mark McGowan, criticised the federal government for allowing a large number of arrivals from India.
“I just thought I should try and get on the front foot and get home before I got locked out of the country,” said Tye, who got married in Perth earlier this month, shortly before he departed for India.
“I think I’ve had 11 days at home and out of the bubble since August.
“I just wanted to get home. Dealing with the stress of bubble life has taken its toll.”
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Tye indicated he also grappled with the philosophical question about whether the big-money tournament should continue amidst the health crisis.
“From a player safety point of view, we’re safe now but is it going to stay safe?” he said.
“But looking at it from an Indian point of view, how are these companies and franchises spending so much money, and the government, on the IPL when there’s people not being able to get accepted into hospital?
“If sport can continue and be one of those avenues to relieve stress or give a glimmer of hope that the world is OK and there is light at the end of the tunnel, I think it should go ahead.
“But I know that’s not everyone’s feelings and I completely respect everyone’s views from all angles.”

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