The ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) season has been interspersed with a severe second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Over the last two weeks, India has registered as many as 17.6 million coronavirus-positive cases. The death toll has peaked at a staggering figure of 198 thousand.
Grave COVID-19 health situation in India
India’s grave COVID-19 crisis has had worrying repercussions outside of the country as well. Many Western World countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and The United Kingdom have already started enforcing flight bans on passengers arriving from India. Consequently, the population of foreign travellers currently based in the country is making desperate efforts to return to their homeland while still being able to.
Several overseas players currently participating in the IPL have expressed their concerns about this situation; some of them going as far ahead as to leave India as soon as they can. Last week saw as many as four foreign IPL stars- 3 Australian, 1 English- pull out of the tournament citing personal reasons. Liam Livingstone and Andrew Tye from the Rajasthan Royals departed early and managed to reach their respective countries free of any hassle.
But two of Tye’s Australian counterparts, namely, Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa, haven’t found their return process going as smooth. Zampa and Richardson- both Royal Challengers Bangalore players- announced their decision to leave India this past weekend. But some complications with Australia’s policy of accepting direct travellers from India delayed their homecoming plans. As it currently stands, the Australian bowling duo is set to fly back home next Tuesday with a stop-over flight at Doha.
Over on a recent chat with Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), Zampa revealed that he decided to quit the IPL midway through this season because he felt vulnerable in the Indian bio-bubble system. The 29-year-old Australian leg-spinner further opined that the tournament would have been much extremely safe if played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), just like last year.
“UAE was safer; IPL 2021 should’ve been held there”- Adam Zampa
“We’ve been in a few (bubbles) now, and I feel like this is probably the most vulnerable. I just feel like because it’s India, there’s a lot of focus on hygiene and being extra careful. I just felt like it was the most vulnerable,” Zampa told SMH.
“The IPL in Dubai six months ago didn’t feel that way at all. I felt like that was extremely safe. Personally, I feel like that would have been a better option originally for this IPL too. But obviously, there’s a lot of political stuff that goes into it.”
Zampa further expressed concerns over the World T20 that is scheduled to be played in India later this year. He believes that a lot depends on the coming six months and how India fares in terms of hygiene and safety.
“Obviously the COVID situation over here is pretty dire. I just felt, rocking up to training and stuff, obviously, I wasn’t playing in the team as well, I was going to training and I wasn’t finding the motivation.
“There were a few other things like bubble fatigue and the chance to get home, once all the news broke about the flights and everything. I thought this was the best time to make the call.”
“Everyone has got different takes; people with medical emergencies won’t care about cricket”- Zampa on whether the IPL should continue
Zampa, unlike Andrew Tye, declined against directly commenting on whether or not the ongoing IPL season should continue. “There’s a lot of people coming out and supporting the IPL. They say cricket could be a reprieve for some people. But that’s also going to be a personal answer. Someone who has a family member on their death bed probably doesn’t care about the cricket.”
Zampa also shared his thoughts on the financial impacts his decision could have on his life. “I feel like for leaving anyone leaving halfway through a tournament, it’s definitely a financial sacrifice. But from my point of view, I wanted to put my mental health first.”