Chris Morris is ’relieved’ to be safely back in South Africa after IPL’s Covid-19 chaos
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Chris Morris arrived back in South Africa safely from India on Wednesday, saying the decision to postpone the Indian Premier League was the right and only viable option for the organisers.
Morris along with young Gerald Coetzee, who’d flown over to India last week as a replacement for Australian Andrew Tye, in the Rajasthan Royals squad, departed on a 3.30am flight out of New Delhi on Wednesday, touching down in SA in the afternoon. The pair are currently serving a 10-day quarantine at home.
The IPL was postponed indefinitely on Tuesday after players and officials in some of the teams tested positive for Covid-19. The pandemic has ravaged India in recent weeks, with over 400000 new cases reported on Thursday.
“Look, obviously I’m relieved,” Morris, who fetched the highest price ever, $2.2-million, at this year’s IPL auction, said on Thursday.
Morris said he and David Miller, a teammate at the Rajasthan Royals were chatting on Sunday night when word reached them about three Kolkata Knight Riders players testing positive for the coronavirus. “The moment we heard that, when players are testing positive, inside the bubble, then everyone starts asking questions.”
“The alarm bells definitely started going off for all of us.”
As part of the bio bubble protocols for the IPL, teams were isolated on their own floor of hotels where they were staying. “By Monday when they postponed that game (between Kolkata and Royal Challengers Bangalore), we knew the tournament was under pressure to continue.”
“I was chatting to our team doctor, whose room was across the hallway from my mine in the hotel, and Kumar (Sangakarra, the Royals’ head coach) came around the corner, and drew his finger across his throat, and then we knew it was over,” said Morris. “And then it was chaos!”
“The England guys especially were panicking because they needed to isolate in hotels in England first, and apparently there weren’t any rooms.”
Morris was full of praise for the Royals’ management and Cricket SA and the SA Cricketers Association. “The Royals’ management were brilliant, they had their fingers on the pulse, made everyone feel as comfortable as possible. I know poor Gerald was panicking a bit, I mean he’s only 20 and all this is going on. I tried to keep him under my wing a bit and made sure he was ready when the 12.30am pick up came at the hotel. It was eerie, it was just a handful of us in that whole hotel at the time.”
Morris and the rest of the South African players had been in constant touch with Stephen Cook from the SA Cricketers Association, as well as the Proteas team manager Volvo Masebulele and CSA’s Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith.
By 3.30am on Wednesday Morris, Coetzee, along with Faf du Plessis, Lungi Ngidi, Hardus Viljoen, who was helping the Chennai Super Kings as a net bowler and Eric Simons (the Super Kings bowling consultant), were on a flight out of Delhi, headed for Doha where they transferred for the flight back to SA.
“We were given hazmat suits, and we did enough to boost the shares of the hand sanitiser companies, we used so much of that. We were well protected.”
Morris explained that as the tournament unfolded amidst the horrific crisis in India, it created a moral dilemma.
“For me, this was always a two-fold thing; on the one hand we’re playing a tournament, all happy and smiling in a bubble, while outside so many people are suffering. On the flip side of it, there was the fact that by playing, we were ensuring people actually stayed at home, watched us and at least had something to smile about or something else to think about - even if it was being unhappy with how we played in a game - for three hours each night.”
The rest of the South African players were on separate flights, some flying from Ahmedabad, where they were based in the last week, and everyone is expected back home by Friday at the latest.