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Why Aussies are leaving the IPL bio-bubble

Australia’s Zampa, Richardson follow Tye out of IPL amid India COVID surge

Australia leg-spinner Adam Zampa and fast bowler Kane Richardson have joined compatriot Andrew Tye in cutting short their Indian Premier League (IPL) season and heading home as India struggles with a massive surge in COVID-19 cases.

Tye, who was with the Rajasthan Royals, flew to Sydney on Sunday via Mumbai and Doha, citing the ‘stress of bubble life’ and concerns about borders closing in Australia.

“I just thought I should try and get on the front foot and get home before I got locked out of the country,” he told Australian radio station SEN.

“I think I’ve had 11 days at home and out of the bubble since August.

“There’s definitely concerns,” Tye added. “A lot of guys have been in touch today once they’ve realised I was leaving.”

“Some of the guys are very interested in what route I took home and how I approached it.”

“I’m not sure if I’ll be the only one (returning), but that’s too early for me to say.”

Zampa and Richardson have now decided to follow suit, with Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday saying they were unavailable for the rest of the IPL season and were returning to Australia for “personal reasons”.

“Royal Challengers Bangalore management respects their decision and offers them complete support,” the franchise said on Twitter.

A number of Australia’s top cricketers remain in India, including batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner, and paceman Pat Cummins.

India reported 349,691 new cases on Sunday, the fourth straight day of record peaks. Hospitals in Delhi and across the country are turning away patients after running out of medical oxygen and beds.

Australia said last week it would cut flights from India and reduce the number of its citizens able to return from other red-zone countries to contain the risk of more virulent strains of COVID-19 spreading.

Australia has largely eliminated COVID-19 by closing its borders and installing snap lockdowns when cases of community transmission occur.

Governing body Cricket Australia and the Australian players union said they were in ‘regular contact’ with Australian players, coaches and commentators at the IPL.

“We will continue to listen to feedback from those on the ground in India and the advice of the Australian government,” the bodies said in a joint statement.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who coaches the IPL’s Delhi Capitals, suggested he would not be among those to pull out of the league.

“Even with the country being in a situation that it is, I think cricket can still bring a lot of joy to people,” he said.

“So it is important for us to be doing what we can as cricketers and as coaches and as a franchise to putting on the best show as possible to give the people something that they’d like to see.”

India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has also pulled out of the IPL to support his family.

Organisers have said they will push on with the tournament amid growing criticism. An IPL governing council member told Reuters on Sunday the league provided a ‘much-needed distraction from all the doom and gloom’.

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