The exit of five players from the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 has put team performance and sponsorships at risk, casting a cloud over the successful completion of the ongoing tournament series, which began on 9 April. Sports marketing and media experts said the fear of travel bans by foreign countries and strict bio-bubble protocols are taking a toll on players, as India continues to reel under the devastating impact of the second covid-19 wave.
Four international players and one national player have so far exited the 2021 edition of IPL, which is being held at six major Indian cities.
Australian players make up the majority of the exits. Royal Challengers Bangalore’s overseas recruits Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson are the latest to leave the tournament and return home to Australia citing personal reasons, the franchise announced on Monday.
These follow Rajasthan Royals’ fast bowler Andrew Tye, who was the first Aussie to return home, again citing personal reasons. However, a PTI report quoted the cricketer who spoke to SEN Radio from Doha as stating: “There were a number of reasons (behind his exit), but the main one was with the situation that has started to happen back home in Perth with a lot of cases in home quarantine coming out of India. Now, there’s a community case in Perth, governments are trying to restrict the numbers coming back in, especially Western Australia. The bubble fatigue was also a factor.”
He also claimed that many Australian cricketers are keen to return. Leading Australian cricketers, including David Warner, Steve Smith and Pat Cummins, are part of the ongoing IPL season.
To be sure, getting out of India is becoming tougher, with many countries such as the UK, UAE, Singapore, Canada and New Zealand banning flights from here. Australia has already reduced flights by 30% from India, and there could be more restrictions as cases continue to mount.
“To my knowledge, a lot of players returning to home countries are not doing it necessarily because of covid situation. There’s a secure bio-bubble ensuring their safety. I believe their decision is highly personal because there’s an upcoming Australia tour of West Indies in June-July before which they wish to see their families,” a senior executive from an IPL team franchise said on condition of anonymity.
Rajasthan Royal’s batting all-rounder Liam Livingstone flew back to England last week, citing “bubble fatigue accumulated over the past year”.