COVID-19 scare for Cummins' IPL team

·3-min read

The Indian Premier League's biosecurity bubble has been breached by multiple COVID-19 cases, including two teammates of Australia's vice-captain Pat Cummins.

Kolkata Knight Riders were slated to face Royal Challenges Bangalore in Ahmedabad on Monday night, but that game has been postponed.

Kolkata's Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier have tested positive for COVID-19, but their teammates have returned negative tests so far.

Cummins and compatriot Ben Cutting are playing for the franchise, while Australian coach David Hussey is part of their support staff.

It's understood that Cummins, whose IPL contract is worth approximately $3.1 million, is currently healthy and not experiencing any coronavirus symptoms.

But the superstar paceman now faces daily tests and a nervous wait as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) seek to control the outbreak.

There are also unconfirmed reports of other COVID-19 cases in the league, including three non-playing members of Chennai Super Kings' bubble plus ground staff in Delhi.

The developments have fuelled speculation that the Twenty20 tournament could be suspended, as was the case with the Pakistan Super League earlier this year, or at least halted for a few days.

An IPL statement noted its medical team is "is in continuous touch" with Chakravarthy and Warrier.

"The medical team is also determining the close and casual contacts of the two positive cases during the 48 hours prior to collection of the sample," it said.

"The BCCI and the Kolkata Knight Riders prioritise the health and safety of everyone involved and all measures are being taken in that endeavour."

The scare will set off fresh alarms at the BCCI, Cricket Australia (CA) and Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA).

This IPL season, scheduled to run until May 31, is being played in front of empty stands and amid a backdrop of India's deadly second wave of COVID-19.

If the competition shuts down then Cummins and others among a group of almost 40 Australian players, coaches and officials will be stuck in no man's land.

Australia's federal government is yet to indicate whether a recently-introduced ban on all incoming travellers from India could be extended, but it will run until at least May 15.

Former Australia opener Michael Slater, who was in India on commentary duties and has been attempting to return home, launched a tirade against Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

"If our government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It's a disgrace!!," Slater tweeted.

"Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this."

Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson last week fled the IPL, returning home via Qatar, but any Australian attempting that journey now risks jail time and fines.

Some optimistic Australian players remain hopeful that commercial flights will be allowed to resume by the end of the month, while others are bracing for contingency plans that involve a two-week stopover in another nation.

Cummins, who last week donated $50,000 to help India combat its health crisis, is playing a central role in logistical discussions between stressed Australian cricketers, CA and the ACA.

A potential charter flight, which would need to be approved by federal government, has formed part of those talks.

However, CA chief executive Nick Hockley insisted on Monday "there's no suggestion at the moment of any charter flight".

"As we get closer to the end of the tournament, we'll need to see where the situation is at," Hockley told SEN.

Complicating matters is Australia's limited-overs tour of the West Indies in June, with Cummins and other stars facing a tight turnaround if their homecoming is delayed.

The coming weeks may feel particularly long for David Warner, who was the title-winning skipper and face of Sunrisers Hyderabad but has now been dropped and stripped of the captaincy at the last-placed franchise.

Meanwhile, CA has announced a $50,000 donation while partnering with the ACA and UNICEF Australia for a fundraising drive in response to India's COVID-19 nightmare.