There are no immediate plans for England’s Indian Premier League contingent to leave the tournament despite a growing sense of unease at the surge of coronavirus cases in the country, the PA news agency understands.
The IPL has been carrying on against a grim backdrop of a public health emergency, with daily infections now topping 350,000 and reports of oxygen shortages and a lack of hospital capacity.
Three Australian players – Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson – pulled out over the weekend, with Australia reportedly ready to stop incoming flights from India.
Meanwhile one high-profile India star, Ravichandran Ashwin, has also stood down to help support his extended family through the crisis.
There are currently 11 English players still involved in the competition and, while it is understood there is a rising nervousness about the situation, no withdrawals are thought to be imminent.
The England and Wales Cricket Board is liaising with the players, providing advice and information in addition to that which is already forthcoming from the respective franchises, but continues to view the matter of continued participation as an individual decision.
A spokesperson for the ECB told PA: “We continue to monitor and work with the players on an individual basis. We are offering advice daily to those that seek it. Our thoughts are with the people of India during these difficult times.”
Ben Stokes’ IPL campaign was ended by a broken finger, Rajasthan Royals team-mate Liam Livingstone left last week citing bubble fatigue – though the worsening pandemic may have played a role in his decision too – and Jofra Archer was unable to join up with the squad after finger surgery.
E Morgan (Kolkata Knight Riders), J Buttler (Rajasthan Royals), M Ali, S Curran (Chennai Super Kings), J Bairstow, J Roy (Sunrisers Hyderabad), C Woakes, S Billings, T Curran (Delhi Capitals), C Jordan, D Malan (Punjab Kings).
That leaves one-day captain Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Dawid Malan, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Jordan, Chris Woakes, Tom and Sam Curran and Sam Billings still involved.
While there is a firm appetite at the Board of Control for Cricket in India to keep the show on the road, albeit behind closed doors, further exits of high-profile overseas imports or influential India internationals like Ashwin could put the tournament in doubt.
It is not due to be completed until May 30, with just a third of the scheduled 60 games having taken place by Monday morning.
Australia pace bowler Pat Cummins, who represents Kolkata Knight Riders, made his own intervention by pledging to donate 50,000 dollars to India’s pandemic response and inviting others to contribute.
Taking to Twitter, he posted: “There has been quite a bit of discussion over here as to whether it is appropriate for the IPL to continue while COVID-19 infection rates remain high. I’m advised that the Indian Government is of the view that playing the IPL while the population is in lockdown provides a few hours of joy and respite each day at an otherwise difficult time for the country.
“As players, we are privileged to have a platform that allows us to reach millions of people that we can use for good. With that in mind, I have made a contribution to the ‘PM Cares Fund’, specifically to purchase oxygen supplies for India’s hospitals.
“I encourage my fellow IPL players – and anyone else around the world who has been touched by India’s passion and generosity – to contribute. I will kick it off with 50,000. I know my donation isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but I hope it will make a difference to someone.”