Pat Cummins is stranded in India because of Australia’s border closure as our star cricketers consider fleeing to an island paradise.
Pat Cummins says he was shocked by Scott Morrison’s decision to ban Australians flying home from India as it emerged our cricketers may need to flee elsewhere to escape the worsening COVID-19 situation in India.
The Indian Premier League was suspended on Tuesday night after multiple players — Varun Chakaravarthy, Sandeep Warrier Wriddhiman Saha and Amit Mishra — tested positive. Coaching staff and television crew have also contracted coronavirus as the integrity of the tournament’s biosecure bubble was compromised.
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Cummins — the golden boy of Australian cricket and potential captain-in-waiting — is one of many players and coaches who face an anxious wait to get home.
Asked if he was “shocked” by the Australian government’s recent announcement to ban all flights to and from India until at least May 15 — and introduce the threat of jail time for anyone who breached that order — Cummins said it certainly took him by surprise.
“Yeah it did a little bit,” Cummins told The Back Page. “Once we flew out of Australia we knew we were signing up for 14 days quarantine coming home, so you always feel that little bit further away from getting home.
“As soon as the hard border shut, obviously no one has experienced that before. It added a bit of anxiety for a few of the Aussies over here.
“But we signed up to play the tournament until the start of June. Hopefully it all reopens on May 15 and we’ll be able to get back.”
Other big names including David Warner, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell are trapped in India, and so too are coaches Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich.
Warner’s daughter Ivy posted a heart-wrenching note to her dad on social media, asking him to come home safely, while former Test opening batsman Michael Slater this week lashed out at Morrison, accusing him of having “blood on your hands” and abandoning Australians.
Slater, who was commentating on the IPL, has fled to the Maldives, and his countrymen may follow suit. Cricinfo reports Australia’s IPL contingent may look to use the island paradise in the Indian Ocean as a temporary base to get out of India and wait for the hard border closure to end.
India is recording about 360,000 cases and 3500 deaths a day and has been hit by chronic shortages of hospital beds and oxygen.
IPL participants are isolating and for now, Cummins is playing the waiting game.
“Think we are all hoping we can get home like we would normally plan and the borders open on May 15, whether it’s (a) private (flight) or not we wouldn’t be allowed back in (yet),” he said.
“Cricket Australia have been brilliant along with the ACA, they are working closely with the government to get the latest information, if we can’t get home it won’t be for lack of trying from all those involved.”
Chris Lynn came under fire last week for suggesting Cricket Australia could help organise a charter flight to get home — although he stressed he in no way wanted cricketers to jump the queue.
CA and the Australian Cricketers Association released a joint statement on Tuesday night saying they are working on plans to get people home safely, but will “not seek exemptions”.
“Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association understand the decision of the BCCI to indefinitely postpone the 2021 Indian Premier League for the safety and wellbeing of all participants,” the statement said.
“CA is in direct contact with the BCCI as they work through plans to ensure the safe accommodation and repatriation of Australian players, coaches, match officials and commentators back home to Australia.
“CA and the ACA respect the decision of the Australian Government to pause travel from India until at least May 15 and will not seek exemptions. CA and the ACA thank the BCCI for their efforts and co-operation for the safe repatriation of all participants at the IPL.”