Australian Cricketers Stranded in India as COVID Cases Rise

India is currently in the middle of a catastrophic surge in COVID cases as the countries healthcare system cripples under the insurmountable pressure. Looking through the prism of sport, the situation has created a moral dilemma for many foreign cricketers in the region, some are keen to stay and play on games that they see as a valuable respite for the country, whereas others are desperately trying to leave to their home countries.

Cricket player India.

Cricket in India is a national treasure and represents one of the most popular sports being played in the country. As the IPL reaches its final stages, players are left with the question of whether or not to continue playing during the most severe peak of COVID infections the country has ever experienced. ©PDPics/Pixabay

Australian cricketers are reportedly anxious and trying to figure out ways to transport themselves back across the peninsula to Australia. But as the Australian Cricketers Association has emphasized, the players are not looking for any prioritization in their transport plans, and recognize the privileged position they find themselves in compared to the majority of India’s population.

Approximately 40 Australians are involved in the IPL system either as players, coaches, officials, and media staff. This relatively small cohort finds themselves stranded in India as flights from the Asian nation have been put under suspension until the 15th of May. The decision was not taken lightly, and as the Australian Prime Minister pointed out when the flights do begin once again, there will be no prioritization for the cricketers.

Being stranded abroad is not something that any professional athlete could have anticipated, and the speed at which the crisis unfolded in India has caught many people out by surprise. Despite this concern, many cricketers playing in the IPL enjoy huge comforts and privileges, with access to private healthcare and living in areas that are not accessible to the general public. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the players are humble enough to recognize their value in the crisis, and many have been actively promoting charitable causes on their huge social platforms, and have pledged to do all they can to help the country recover.

Aussie Pace Bowler Pat Cummins Donates $50,000 to India’s COVID Relief

One of Australia’s best pace bowlers and the destroyer of wickets across the world, Pat Cummins has donated $50,000 towards the COVID relief efforts in India. Cummins is a resident of India and has spent many years in the country playing inside the IPL for the Kolkata Knight Riders. In his own words, he is deeply affectionate towards India and says it is the place where he has met some of the warmest and kindest people in the world.

The suffering across India has been widespread, and the country’s healthcare system was not designed to cope with such enormous pressure. There are a number of factors contributing to the high infection rates, but the root cause of the worst aspects is a lack of funding and resources. As some of India’s best-paid residents, Cummins intends to lead by example and has encouraged other compatriots and indeed IPL players to chip in and show their willingness to help relieve the strain on Indian healthcare.

The donation made by Pat Cummins is going towards the PM Cares Fund which will help the country’s hospitals procure more oxygen supplies. Appealing to other players in the IPL over his social media platforms, the Australian fast bowler was clearly touched very deeply regarding the support he’s received from his teammates.

Cummins has been playing in the IPL since 2019 when he was purchased by Kolkatta for $3.1 million at an auction for new players. Some of his greatest career highlights include the devastating destruction of England at the Ashes series back in the summer of 2019 where he was the leading wicket-taker in the entire series.

IPL Continues In a COVID Secure Bubble

There has been an intense discussion surrounding the ethics around returning to IPL cricket, and players have to debate the need for cricket to return and whether it would provide a benefit to the wider community. As the crisis has worsened there has been a serious question of suitability around the games. Players and officials at the IPL have been fairly unanimous in their support of the initiative to keep playing, and have recognized the fact that the games provide a valuable respite to people in such difficult times.

The Indian Government importantly also shared this view, and they were in support of providing the country with a few hours of entertainment that can be enjoyed during a quarantine to keep the morale high. The popularity of IPL is unmatched by any other sport in India, and in this sense, it is greatly received by the local population.

The crisis in India continues to devastate the country at all levels, and with international support gradually mobilizing, the whole world will feel hopeful that the pandemic will be brought back under control in this region of the world.

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Cricket stadium in India.

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