FILE - Proteas paceman Lungi Ngidi and former skipper Faf du Plessis play for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League. Photo: AP
FILE - Proteas paceman Lungi Ngidi and former skipper Faf du Plessis play for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League. Photo: AP

Its up to SA players at IPL to decide if they want to continue to play, says Cricket SA

By Stuart Hess Time of article published May 3, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG – South African players at the Indian Premier League must make a decision for themselves about whether or not they want to continue playing in the tournament.

On Monday the IPL’s bio bubble was breached, when players and officials from two teams tested positive for Covid-19.

The pandemic has ravaged India in recent weeks, with 368 000 new cases reported on Monday, the 12th day in a row in which the country has reported more than 300 000 cases in a day.

The Kolkata Knight Riders and the Chennai Super Kings had players and staff return positive tests for the virus, leading to the postponement of a match involving the Kolkata side on Monday, while Chennai’s match later this week in New Delhi is also in doubt after ground staff at the Feroz Kotla stadium, which is hosting matches, also tested positive.

ALSO READ: Covid-19 hits the IPL: Two players test positive, match postponed

The IPL, a multi-billion dollar event, has carried on despite soaring cases of Covid-19 in India.

Cricket South Africa has kept in touch with the 11 South African players participating in the IPL. “We’ve offered support to the players and made ourselves available to them should there be any concerns,” said Cricket SA’s Director of Cricket Graeme Smith. “Ultimately, it is in their hands to make a choice (about their continued participation).”

The SA Cricket Association (Saca) has also been in touch with the players who last week said that while they were concerned, they still felt comfortable and confident about the bio bubble that had been created for the tournament. Saca will also be touching base with the players in the next day or two.

There are no South African players in the Kolkata side, but Faf du Plessis, Lungi Ngidi and Imran Tahir all play for Chennai, which had three staff members, including bowling coach, Lakshmipathy Balaji, test positive. As part of new protocols following the positive returns, testing in the bubble is being ramped up according to reports in India.

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The IPL’s bio bubble has come in for criticism from social commentators in India, who, citing the devastation wrought by the virus especially in the last few weeks, have questioned the tournament continuing to take place.

Special arrangements are made for teams when they travel through airports in India, and despite high demand for medical supplies, teams have access to ambulances and special facilities at private hospitals.

While the bubbles have been strictly monitored, the cases involving the Kolkata players - one of whom had to go to a hospital for a shoulder scan, which is where it is suspected he may have picked up the virus - shows that despite strict protocols, no ‘bio bubble’ is 100% secure.

Unlike Australia, which has banned travel from India, South Africa, under the current Level 1 restrictions, continues to keep its border with India open, requiring all travelers to carry proof of a negative test within 72 hours of travelling.

ALSO READ: Cricket stars leave IPL as India virus toll grows

If the South Africans want to return, it will be up to them to make their own arrangements although CSA would provide logistical support. Last week Australian trio Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye and Kane Richardson all withdrew from the tournament, hours before the Australian government officially banned all travel into Australia from India.

In the event of the IPL being postponed, the Board of Control for Cricket in India will then make the necessary arrangements to get players home just as it did in flying them to India last month.

South African players at IPL

Mumbai Indians – Quinton de Kock, Marco Jansen

Royal Challengers Bangalore – AB de Villiers

Chennai Super Kings – Faf du Plessis, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir

Delhi Capitals – Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje

Rajasthan Royals – Chris Morris, David Miller, Gerald Coetzee

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