Australia will not prioritise its Indian Premier League (IPL) cricketers for travelling back home from India amid the surge in Covid-19 cases, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday.
Three Australian cricketers have already cut short their IPL season to return home but a number of top players such as Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins are continuing to play. Other Australians, such as former cricket captain Ricky Ponting, are also in India as coaches of IPL teams.
Australia on Tuesday suspended direct flights from India until May 15 to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infections. Morrison said the cricketers would not be allowed to jump the queue for repatriation flights when they resume.
According to reports in the Australian media, Morrison said, "It's done on vulnerability. hey travelled there privately under those arrangements, this wasn't part of an Australian tour.
"They're under their own resources and they'll be using those resources to, I'm sure, see them return to Australia," the PM told journalists.
Batsman Chris Lynn, who plays for Mumbai Indians, said he had asked governing body Cricket Australia to arrange a charter flight to bring players home at the end of the IPL. His logic was that Cricket Australia make 10% of every IPL contract so he wanted to know if there was a chance of spending that money this year on a charter flight once the tournament is over.
"We are not asking for shortcuts and we signed up knowing the risks. But it would be great to get home as soon as the event is over," he said on a TV news channel.
However, Cricket Australia declined to comment on the issue.