'As of now, IPL is going ahead. Obviously, if anyone wants to leave, that's perfectly fine'
Anxiety pierced through IPL's bio-secure bubble, on Monday, with leading Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and some Australian players withdrawing from the league amid the escalating COVID-19 crisis in India even as the BCCI insisted that the glitzy league will go on.
The 34-year-old Ashwin, competing for Delhi Capitals, decided to take a break saying that his family is currently 'putting up a fight against COVID-19' and he wants to support them. He hopes to return to the side 'if things go in the right direction'.
However, Andrew Tye (Rajastan Royals) and the duo of Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa (both Royal Challengers Bangalore) withdrew as apprehension set in after a couple of weeks went by smoothly for the league being held in front of empty stands across six venues.
While Zampa and Richardson have not yet spoken about their 'personal reasons' for leaving, Tye said he feared getting locked out of his own country owing to mounting quarantine cases from India in his hometown Perth.
The BCCI, on its part, insisted that the event will continue and it wouldn't come in the way of those wanting to leave.
"As of now, IPL is going ahead. Obviously, if anyone wants to leave, that's perfectly fine," a senior Board official said on conditions of anonymity.
Several England and New Zealand players are also competing in the event but haven't yet spoken about their concerns.
"We continue to monitor and work with the players on an individual basis. Our thoughts are with the people of India during these difficult times," a spokesperson of the England and Wales Cricket Board said.
The players from New Zealand, including stars such Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, are expected to leave early in any case as they have a Test series against England starting June 2. They will have to head back in last week of May to be available for it because of quarantine rules.
The IPL final is scheduled to be held on May 30 in Ahmedabad.
Australia, it is learnt, might arrange a chartered flight for its IPL cricketers once their engagement is over.
As many as 14 Australian players now remain in the event, including stars such as Steve Smith (DC), David Warner (SunRisers Hyderabad) and Pat Cummins (Kolkata Knight Riders), as well as coaches Ricky Ponting (DC) and Simon Katich (RCB).
Commentators Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee, Michael Slater and Lisa Sthalekar are also among the Australians involved with the league right now.