Highly-paid Australian cricketers competing in the Indian Premier League could soon start making their way back home, after bowler Andrew Tye became the first star to opt to leave the increasingly COVID-ravaged nation.
Players are reportedly becoming increasingly nervous for their safety amid an explosion in coronavirus cases in India, which has seen oxygen supplies run devastatingly low and hundreds of thousands of new cases reported each day.
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Part of Tye's reasoning behind returning to Australia was fatigue from largely being restricted to COVID-safe 'bubbles' since Australia's brief tour of England last August.
The West Australian star requested a release from the Rajasthan Royals on personal grounds, but told SEN Radio on Monday that many other Aussie players were considering whether or not to see out the season.
“There’s definitely concerns. A lot of guys have been in touch today once they’ve realised I was leaving,” he said.
“Some of the guys are very interested in what route I took home and how I approached it. Other guys are just happy to make sure I’m OK and I’m in a good space.
“There is some concern. I’m not sure if I’ll be the only one, but that’s too early for me to say.”
Since Tye did his interview on Monday morning, fellow Australian stars Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson have also pulled out of the IPL season.
The IPL returned to India this season after last season was played in Abu Dhabi due to coronavirus concerns.
The situation in India now is markedly worse than last season, with Ricky Ponting, coach of the Dehli Capitals, labelling the situation 'grim'.
Indian star Ravi Ashwin has also announced he will no longer take part in this season due to the worsening virus situation.
A total of 16 Australian players are competing in the IPL this season, with the likes of Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell all commanding massive price tags in the IPL auction.
Former stars Simon Katich, Ponting and Trevor Bayliss hold coaching roles in the IPL.
Spin bowler Daniel Sams contracted the virus soon after arriving in India several weeks ago.
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Both Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association are adopting a watch-and-wait approach, with both organisations in constant contact with players.
As things stand, players organise their own flights out of India given the tournament is during their holiday period.
On signing a no objection certificate (NOC) with CA to play in the tournament, players were told there would not be chartered flights home.
However, the situation has since worsened in India and CA will not leave players stranded if there is no other way to return them home.
Likewise, CA has provided support to Sams after his positive test despite the tournament not falling under its umbrella.
While there has been nerves from players over the situation and how they will return home no other Australians have declared they want to leave.
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