Johnny Grave

TRYING TO HELP: Cricket West Indies CEO

Johnny Grave.

With the VIVO Indian Premier League now suspended indefinitely, the biggest concern for most of the overseas players will be getting back to their respective countries with entry to various key transit points now being restricted.

The West Indies has a number of its stars plying their trade in the world’s richest T20 league, including Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Shimron Hetmyer and Jason Holder and as Covid-19 infections continue to soar in India, countries around the world are taking note with some banning entry for those coming from India.

Cricket West Indies chief executive officer Johnny Grave said the regional body stands ready to assist its players where they can and has been in contact with them.

“We are in contact with all our IPL players and their agents and franchises to assist where we can in ensuring that they can get home as quickly and safely as possible,” Grave said yesterday.

Along with international players, IPL also has a host of international cricket commentators in their broadcast crew including former West Indies fast bowler, T&T’s Ian Bishop, who commented on and was the MC for the post game presentation ceremony on Saturday when Pollard’s Mumbai Indians defeated Bravo’s Chennai Super Kings.

While there is no stated ban on arrivals from India, T&T’s borders remained closed with government continuing the process of granting exemptions for nationals to re-enter the country. Returning nationals are required to undergo 14 days of quarantine upon arrival in T&T.

Covid-19 infections and deaths continued to surge in India yesterday, with over 300,000 new cases being reported, taking the country’s Covid-19 tally past the 20 million mark. There has also been over 220,000 Covid-19 related deaths.

The IPL bubble held back the virus for a while before cases began popping up inside the camps on Monday, prompting the IPL to suspend the competition. The IPL staged 29 games behind closed doors until Monday when Covid-19 positive cases began popping among players and non-playing staff.

There have been no reports of any of the West Indies players in the IPL testing positive for Covid-19. In a statement yesterday, IPL governing council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) unanimously decided to postpone the IPL 2021 season with immediate effect.

“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and well-being of all the stakeholders in mind,” the IPL statement read.

“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” it added.

While the BCCI said it “will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021” for some, it could prove a difficult task as travel from India has been restricted in many key transport hubs including the UAE, the UK, Canada and the US.

Like CWI, the cricket boards of Australia, New Zealand and England have been keeping tabs on their players in the IPL as they try to get them home.

While Australia has banned incoming travel from India until May 15, Cricket Australia said it would not seek exemptions for players and instead it has been trying to work out contingencies to ensure the health and safety of players such as Steve Smith and David Warner, including charter flights to other countries.

Meanwhile, there are 11 English players in the IPL and Britain is currently imposing quarantine on incoming travellers.

“We are in close contact with our players and staff in India as arrangements are put in place for them to return home safely,” the England and Wales Cricket Board said.

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