Zampa, Richardson return after IPL dash

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Marnus Labuschagne admits being overlooked in the Indian Premier League auction was a "blessing in disguise" as fellow cricketers Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson completed their stressful dash to Australia.

Zampa and Richardson touched down in Melbourne late on Thursday afternoon via a commercial flight from Qatar.

The duo's IPL stint ended prematurely on Monday, when they decided to follow AJ Tye's lead in leaving India because of the nation's deadly second wave of COVID-19.

There were fears that Zampa and Richardson would be stranded in a Mumbai hotel and unable to return home after the federal government suspended all direct flights from India until May 15.

But they successfully travelled to Doha then, having booked tickets prior to Tuesday's announcement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, departed after the stopover.

Australian umpire Paul Reiffel wasn't as lucky, having decided to flee India this week but soon realised he had left it too late.

Reiffel remains in the IPL's biosecurity bubble and, like other Australians involved in the Twenty20 tournament, is set to wait until the event ends before flying home.

Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) are in ongoing talks about the prospect of organising an end-of-tournament charter flight, but remain hopeful it won't be necessary.

Mr Morrison, whose government would need to approve any charter flight for Australia's IPL contingent that numbers almost 40, has said the India travel ban will be reviewed closer to May 15.

On Tuesday, India surpassed 200,000 COVID deaths amid a dreadful surge that has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.

Meanwhile, Labuschagne has landed in the UK and expressed concern for his Australia teammates in the IPL.

Labuschagne has linked up with Glamorgan again after a 2019 spell at the Welsh county preceded a rapid rise in which he became one of the world's best batsmen.

The 26-year-old admits his thoughts have also been on India's escalating health crisis.

"You obviously feel for them," Labuschagne said.

"But I haven't spoken to too many guys that are feeling unsafe.

"It's more about getting back into Australia and what does that look like.

"I just hope that they stay safe and get back to Australia safely."

Labuschagne had been keen to make his IPL debut and push his case for a call-up for this year's T20 World Cup.

But the star batsman went unsold in the IPL auction and instead his runs helped Queensland to Sheffield Shield glory.

"It certainly looks like it was a blessing in disguise," Labuschagne said.

"I would love to have played in the IPL, it's a great tournament. But there's always two sides to the coin.

"If I was in the IPL, I would have been away and to win a Shield is something that doesn't come around often.

"You look at the conditions in India now and it's not looking great.

"Being in Wales, things are opening up and that's a real positive. People are getting some freedom after the last 12 to 18 months."