IPL players told ‘you are playing for humanity’ in midst of Covid pandemic

  • BCCI chief executive says ‘you are safe in the bubble’
  • Eleven England players still with their franchises

Players in the Indian Premier League have been told they are playing for “humanity” and remain “totally safe” within the confines of the tournament’s biosecure bubble as organisers look to stave off further departures.

The IPL’s continuation during India’s huge second wave of Covid‑19, with daily recorded cases topping 350,000 in the past week, is coming under scrutiny after India’s Ravichandran Ashwin and three Australians – Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson and Andrew Tye – opted to leave their franchises.

As it stands, all 11 England players still at the IPL – including the one-day captain, Eoin Morgan – are remaining in the country and were among those to receive an update on Tuesday morning from Hemang Amin, the interim chief executive of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, acknowledging the growing concerns.

In an email Amin said: “[We] understand that there are few apprehensions and concerns regarding the general situation in India and the withdrawals of certain cricketers. We completely respect the decision taken by the players and extend our support to them in every way. At the same time, we would also assure you that you are totally safe within the bubble.”

Amin stated the IPL would increase Covid testing for players and support staff to every two days – it was previously every fifth day – while food deliveries to the team hotels have been paused “to strengthen our bio-bubbles”.

More pressing for overseas players are the logistical issues presented by India’s travel status during this recent surge. England players face 10 days of quarantine in a government-approved hotel upon arrival back in the UK, while Australia has announced a temporary ban on all direct flights from India until 15 May.

On the subject of travel once the IPL wraps up on 30 May, Amin said: “We want to apprise you that you have nothing to worry about. The BCCI will do everything to ensure that you reach your respective destinations seamlessly.

“The BCCI is monitoring the situation very closely and is working with the government authorities to make arrangements to get you home once the tournament concludes. Be rest assured that the tournament is not over for BCCI till each one of you has reached your home, safe and sound.”

It remains to be seen whether these assurances prevent further players opting to leave, so, too, a rallying cry at the end of the tournament-wide email that insists the IPL is providing relief for a country that has recorded 198,000 Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic and more than 2,000 per day since 20 April.

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Amin said: “While you go about playing the sport we all love, you are also doing something really important. As some of you have said, ‘if we can help distract people from all the troubles of recent times, even if it is for a short while, we have done a great job’.

“When you all walk out on to the field, you are bringing hope to millions of people who have tuned in. If, even for a minute, you can bring a smile on someone’s face, then you have done well. While you are professionals and will play to win, this time you are also playing for something much more important … humanity.

“I extend my gratitude to all the health and frontline workers. As I conclude, I would again remind you of our most important defence – wear a mask, maintain social distancing and keep good hand hygiene. With that, I wish you a happy, healthy and safe IPL 2021. Remember, we are all in this together. We are all united!”

Contributor

Ali Martin

The GuardianTramp

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