Aussie IPL stars’ return threatened as government mulls heavy penalty

New Delhi, Apr 30 (IANS) | Publish Date: 4/30/2021 1:47:59 PM IST

Australian cricketers may face trouble getting back home and could be left stranded after reports of their country’s federal government mulling hefty fine and jail term for those returning from India came out in the local media.

“The federal government is considering fining and jailing anyone who tries to enter Australia from India amid that country’s Covid-19 crisis,” said a report in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH).
As many as 14 Australian cricketers are currently in India playing the Indian Premier League (IPL). These include top draws David Warner, Steve Smith and Pat Cummins.
Australians are also part of various IPL franchises’ coaching/support staff and TV commentary team. These include Ricky Ponting, David Hussey, Brett Lee and Matthew Hayden among others.
“Nine News reported on Friday night that the government was considering a further step by making it a crime, punishable by a maximum $66,000 fine or five years’ jail, if they travel home from India,” added the SMH report.
“Nine reported that federal Health Minister Greg Hunt would invoke powers under the Biosecurity Act -- the same legislation used to close the borders -- as soon as Saturday,” it added further.
While there are 36,000 Australians stuck abroad there are 9,000 Aussies in India including the cricketers. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had earlier said that since the players are privately visiting India for the IPL they would have to ensure their return.
“They have travelled there privately,” Morrison was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
“This wasn’t part of an Australian tour. They’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources too, I’m sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with their own arrangements,” the report further said.
“If imposed, it would be the first time it has been made a crime for an Australian to enter their own country,” the SMH report on Friday further said.
Three of the Australian cricketers in IPL -- Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson and Andrew Tye -- have already returned home via Qatar. However, since their arrival home, the borders have been completely sealed.
Umpire Paul Reiffel, who also wanted to return via Qatar after the three cricketers, couldn’t do so as the flights to Australia were by then cancelled. He was just 10 minutes away from leaving the IPL bio-bubble before he learnt about the cancellation of the flights.
Cricketers aren’t the only ones affected.
Bengaluru FC footballer Erik Paartalu on Friday criticised the Australian government.
“As an Aussie that has lived and worked in India for 4 years now I have never felt so far away from feeling Australian. I don’t know how you can deny citizens to return home especially when there are hotel quarantines in place,” he tweeted.
“I have worked inside a bubble for 7 months here in India and this is a huge blow to mine and thousands of others trying to get back to Australia. I hope the government aren’t able to implement what they are trying to do,” he added in the tweet.
“I understand everyone’s concern with the level of infection over here and the possibility of a new variant. But isn’t that the purpose of hotel quarantine for 14 days? Love to all those affected and hope this situation has a good outcome for all the Aussies here in India,” he said further in his tweet.
Australians can accompany Indian, English players to UK: Maxwell
New Delhi, Apr 30 (IANS): Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) batsman Glenn Maxwell has said that Australian players could accompany Indian and English players to the UK and go to Australia from there.
After the end of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) on May 30, India are scheduled to travel to England to play the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand at the Rose Bowl in Southampton from June 18. In the wake of the alarming surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in India, Australia have banned flights from the country until May 15.
“We just want to find a way to go home. The BCCI, both governments, can work out a solution. If we have to wait a bit longer, so be it, but there is a way to get home at some stage,” Maxwell told The Final Word Podcast.
“Worst comes to worst, we have to wait in England and try and find a way out in that chartered (flight) and get out of India. I am sure a lot of guys will try and put their hands up in trying to do that as well,” Maxwell said.
Getting Australian players back home from the IPL has been a subject of speculation due to the worsening Covid situation in India. Three players -- Maxwell’s RCB teammates Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa and Rajasthan Royals’ Andrew Tye -- have already left the tournament for Australia.

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