The Gold Coast Bulletin

Express pace on Oz flight


AUSTRALIA’S IPL players and coaches could be home as early as Sunday, with plans for them to fly into a specially arranged hotel quarantine in Sydney.

A large group of players, coaches and even commentato­rs left India last week and have been holed up in a small resort in the Maldives awaiting the government’s India travel ban to lift.

The controvers­ial ban, with threats of large fines and jail sentences, ends on Saturday and there are hopes the group can board a plane on Sunday to return.

The 8000 or more Australian­s trapped in India are also free to return, with the government signalling there will be a small number of repatriati­on flights this month.

The cricketers will first have to catch a boat to the Maldives capital, Male, where a flight is expected to make its way to Australia via Kuala Lumpur.

Cricket authoritie­s are believed to have negotiated an arrangemen­t with the NSW government that would see the group quarantine­d over and above caps on citizens returning.

There were initial thoughts the players would go to a federal facility at Howard Springs in the Northern Territory but they may now be spread across three hotels in Sydney’s CBD.

The BCCI guaranteed it would get all foreign players home when the IPL was postponed and the organisati­on is expected to pay for the flights.

The move is sure to be controvers­ial, with many asking why cricketers get what appears to be special treatment.

Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Associatio­n have made it clear that they are not asking for any favours from the government, which gave players permission to leave Australia.

“We’re not seeking any kind of special exemptions whatsoever,” interim CA boss Nick Hockley said. “Any kind of quarantine arrangemen­ts would be over and above the cap. So our priority is we would work with the Australian government and the relevant state government­s to make sure that we’re not taking spaces off anyone else.

“I can’t speak more highly for how the BCCI, but also all of the franchises, have worked to look after our players and put in plans to make sure that they get home safely and as quickly as possible.”

The IPL was postponed after players and officials, including Australia’s Mike Hussey, were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Some players left early, uncomforta­ble with playing in such an environmen­t and anxious about their own safety.

Pat Cummins (pictured) announced a $50,000 donation to Unicef to help India battle the pandemic, which was later matched by Cricket Australia.

Cummins, Brett Lee, Ellyse Perry, Hussey, Rachael Haynes, Steve Smith and Alan Border have all asked the cricket community to help.

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