Sat | Jul 31, 2021

Mad rush!

BCCI and IPL organisers hustle to get West Indian players out of India

Published:Thursday | May 6, 2021 | 12:21 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
Gayle
Gayle

As the cricketing world continues to grapple with the news of the cancellation of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Tuesday due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the tournament’s biosecure bubble, the organisers of the tournament, in conjunction with...

As the cricketing world continues to grapple with the news of the cancellation of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Tuesday due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the tournament’s biosecure bubble, the organisers of the tournament, in conjunction with the nation’s governing body for the sport, is trying frantically to get the foreign players out of the country.

IPL Chairman Brijesh Patel has been reported in the Indian media as saying that his organisation is trying to find a way to get the foreign recruits back to their respective countries, and it could be a matter of days before players can leave India.

The Gleaner understands that the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) will undertake the responsibility of getting the players back to their respective countries. However, with the closure of some airports and travel restrictions, the scenario may take some time before the players are safely home.

Currently, nine West Indian players had been involved with this season’s IPL, including West Indies One-Day International and T20 captain Kieron Pollard, who plays for the Mumbai Indians; Jason Holder, who was with the Sunrisers Hyderabad; Chris Gayle; Nicholas Pooran and Fabian Allen, who played for the Punjab Kings; Dwayne Bravo, with the Chennai Super Kings; Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, with the Kolkata Knight Riders; and Shimron Hetmyer, who was part of the Delhi Capitals set-up.

In addition, there are 14 Australian, 11 South African players along with 10 New Zealanders, three Afghans and two Bangladeshi players in India. Nine of the 11 English players in the IPL have already returned home.

According to a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the challenge for the BCCI is getting the West Indian players, who had been scattered in different cities throughout India, into one place.

“What I have been told is that some of the players are currently in Mumbai and Chennai and some are in Ahmedabad, and the BCCI is trying to get everyone into Ahmedabad so that they can get them on a charter flight into Barbados,” said the source.

The source also confirmed that none of the West Indian players had tested positive for the virus and that they are safe.

It is understood that once the full contingent is in place, the players and other officials may leave India in the next two to three days.

According to the well-placed source, some players, namely Jamaicans Andre Russell and Fabian Allen, who have signed on to play in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), may opt to fly to the United Arab Emirates and wait for the restart of the PSL, which is due to return on June 1 in Karachi.

GETTING THEM HOME SAFELY

Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave says they have been in contact with the players and the BCCI in a bid to rectifying the travel situation.

“We are in contact with all of our IPL players, as well as their agents and franchises, to assist where we can in ensuring that they can get home as quickly and safely as possible,” said Grave.

The IPL was suspended indefinitely following a rise in COVID-19 cases within the country on a whole and the biosecure bubble. The latest development to trigger the suspension was the positive COVID-19 test result of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Wriddhiman Saha and Delhi Capitals’ Amit Mishra.

On Monday, Chennai Super Kings bowling coach L. Balaji and a member of the team’s service staff also tested positive for COVID-19.

sports@gleanerjm.com