5 May 2021

Officials working to get NZ cricketers out of India

1:09 pm on 5 May 2021

Cricket officials in New Zealand and India are working as fast as they can to get New Zealand players and support staff there for the Indian Premier League out of the Covid-ravaged country.

Kolkata Knight Riders.

KKR Photo: AFP

The world's richest Twenty20 tournament was put on hold indefinitely following positive Covid-19 tests in a fourth team on Tuesday.

A player from Sunrisers Hyderabad, where Black Cap Kane Williamson was captain, tested positive before Tuesday night's game against Mumbai Indians, meaning the game didn't take place.

Eighteen New Zealand players, support staff or officials are involved in this year's IPL.

Eight of those are headed for the United Kingdom for other matches - with New Zealand Cricket working with their English counterparts and the UK government to organise chartered flights.

But New Zealand Cricket Players Association boss Heath Mills said the situation is more complicated for the 10 New Zealanders wanting to come home.

"Some of the IPLfranchises are being very good and there is a possibility of a chartered flight being organised within the next 24 hours and taking some of our people home, the others probably need to work through commercial flights and get to another port like Doha before they can get on a plane to New Zealand," Mills said.

Mills hoped to have more definitive details on getting the New Zealand players out of India within the next 24 to 48 hours.

The New Zealanders involved in the IPL have so far avoided contracting Covid-19, Mills said and the Kiwis in India for the IPL are safe for now.

"All the players at the moment are in their rooms and the three teams that have had Covid cases are in isolation and they get Covid tests every morning so none of them at this stage have had a positive Covid test."

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) sent out a brief statement on Tuesday night, saying they remained in contact with the New Zealand contingent involved in the tournament.

"The players are in a relatively safe environment and those within affected teams are in isolation.

"We'll continue to liaise with the BCCI, the ECB and New Zealand government authorities in terms of managing their situation - but at this juncture it's too early to discuss potential options."

Four of the New Zealand contingent at the IPL were scheduled to head to England following the competition to prepare for the World Test Championship final.

While finer details of exit plans were still being worked through, it was expected those players would now head to the UK earlier than planned.

They would need to do a 10-day quarantine upon arrival, before linking up with the rest of the Black Caps squad, which was set to depart New Zealand on May 15.

Trent Boult of Mumbai Indians IPL 2021.

Trent Boult Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It was understood the players and staff heading back to New Zealand would be allowed to return and go through the normal 14-day managed isolation process, once MIQ vouchers had been secured.

None of the New Zealanders involved in the tournament were expected to have to spend time in another country before either heading home or to England.

That placed them in a different situation to the contingent of around 40 Australians, including 14 players, in India for the IPL.

Travel restrictions made it a complicated process, given Australia had banned travellers from India, including its own citizens, from entering the country until May 15.

Former test player and commentator Michael Slater, stranded in the Maldives, had earlier criticised the ban on arrivals from India, saying Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has "blood" on his hands.

India's cricket board said they would be doing everything in their power to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants.

"We have been working on their travel plans in consultation with their respective boards so that each of them reach home safely," the BCCI official said, requesting anonymity.

"Some of them will return home tomorrow (Wednesday)."

IPL Chairman Brijesh Patel said the league would facilitate a smooth passage for all the foreigners.

"Franchises will make their arrangement to send them back. We will extend whatever help is required," Patel said.

Over the weekend, India recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll since the pandemic began.

The country has recorded more than 20 million cases, and so far reported more than 222,000 deaths from the virus.

- Reuters/BBC/RNZ