Several Australian cricketers are looking to leave the Indian Premier League early amid fears they will be locked out of the country because of India's escalating COVID-19 crisis.
Kolkata Knight Riders Assistant Coach David Hussey said some of the Australian contingent were nervous about securing safe passage back home after the Australian government reduced the number of incoming passengers allowed from India.
Some of them are getting 'twitchy', Hussey said. 'Everyone is sort of a bit nervous about whether they can get back into Australia. I dare say there'll be a few other Australians a bit nervous about getting back into Australia,' he told The Age, the Melbourne daily newspaper.
India logged a record 349,691 coronavirus infections on Sunday, taking its total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,69,60,172.
The death toll increased to 192,311 with a record 2,767 fatalities on Sunday, according to the official data.
The IPL show is rolling on in bio-secure bubbles, without crowds and with as many as 17 Australian cricketers including big names like Pat Cummins, David Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell, besides coaches and support staff like Delbhi Capitals Head Coach Ricky Ponting and David Hussey.
Hussey said every day they hear about relatives or friends of their Indian team-mates or support staff getting infected or dying.
'A couple of players, their fathers have passed away. One person, in particular, he is one of the staff members with us, and his father passed away last year from COVID, and he was really pragmatic by saying it was his time to go,' Hussey said.
One of the Australians, Rajasthan Royals' Andrew Tye, has already left for home, citing personal reasons. Meanwhile, Billy Stanlake refused a contract with Chennai Super Kings as Josh Hazlewood's last-minute replacement, reportedly due to the COVID-19 surge in India.
On Sunday, Delhi Capitals off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took a break from IPL 2021, saying that his family is currently 'putting up a fight against COVID-19' and he wants to support them.
It is learnt that a very close member of Ashwin's family has tested positive for the dreaded virus.
'Extending our full support to you in these difficult times, @ashwinravi99. Sending you and your family all the strength and prayers from all of us at Delhi Capitals,' DC said.
Ashwin is the first Indian player to pull out of the league because of a COVID-19 situation in the family.