This is what hubris looks like. The failure of this year’s IPL highlights the aggrandisement India’s most powerful and wealthy take from cricket’s spotlight regardless of the dangers.
The assurances from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the country had “saved the world” from the tragedy of COVID-19 and the subsequent claims by IPL officials that their team bubbles were virus safe seem ridiculous now.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison came under fire from Michael Slater.Credit:Rhett Wyman, Getty
Hussey has been retested and if he returns another positive sample, he will be forced to isolate in India for 10 days before going into a fortnight’s quarantine once he returns home.
As it stands, all IPL players must self-isolate for four days following the increasing number of outbreaks.
Australian players, commentators and support staff say they are not looking for special favours. After all, it is the responsibility of the BCCI and their IPL franchises to get international players home, something the Indian governing body acknowledged publicly as the tournament began to unravel.
As professionals plying their trade, they will see out the Australian government’s travel ban in a third country before eventually making their way home some time after May 15 or whenever the ban is lifted.
Michael Hussey has tested positive to the coronavirus while in India.Credit:Getty
The Australians went to the IPL as privateers during their annual break but they are still important ambassadors for Australia in a country that puts cricket on a pedestal like no other.
State and federal trade delegations frequently use current and former cricketers as part of their entourages if they want immediate cut-through in India. This is why many in the game felt it was a bit rich for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to be so dismissive of them when announcing the travel ban. This, the argument goes, from a politician who attaches himself so closely to sport he seems to wear a football cap every time he steps outside.
The reaction of cricketer-turned-commentator Michael Slater, who said the PM had “blood on his hands”, came across as extreme and was dismissed by Morrison as “absurd”. But many in the game believe the former opening batsman, who fled India for the Maldives, made a good point when he said, “I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect”.
Certainly some Australians at the IPL shared Slater’s sentiment that they had been abandoned.
Australian cricket’s poster boy and Kolkata Knight Riders star Pat Cummins put things more diplomatically.
“As soon as the hard border shut – obviously no one has experienced that before – it added a bit of anxiety for a few of the Aussies over here,” he told The Back Page on Fox Sports.
That the IPL was ever scheduled in India this year defies logic. It was played in the UAE last year without incident and would no doubt still be going had the same arrangements been repeated.
The irony is that it is likely to be completed in the UAE this year, which raises the potential for chaos with international fixturing.
Australia has a white-ball tour of the West Indies in late June and July before a scheduled Twenty20 series in Bangladesh, which is yet to be confirmed. The Bangladesh leg appears unlikely to go ahead.
The one positive to come out of this sorry mess should be moving the Twenty20 World Cup that is scheduled for October and November from India to the UAE. Common sense may prevail there at least.
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