After a few players pulled out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) citing reasons related to the ongoing coronavirus crisis in the country, two umpires have now opted out of the tournament.
Nitin Menon and Australian Paul Reiffel, both part of ICC’s Elite Panel of Umpires, have withdrawn from the IPL due to personal reasons.
Menon flew home to Indore after his mother and wife tested positive for the virus, whereas former Aussie seamer Reiffel went back a few days ago due to anxiety about the Australian government not allowing flights from India.
“Nitin has a small child to look after as his mother and wife have tested positive while Reiffel informed BCCI that he fears not being able to go home due to the Australian government’s decision banning all flights from India. The BCCI already had several local umpires as back-up so they will be officiating in games in which Menon and Reiffel were scheduled to stand,” a BCCI official confirmed to The Indian Express.
The IPL has already witnessed Australian players Andrew Tye, Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa flying back due to the fear of not being able to get home if they stayed longer in India. England player Liam Livingstone pulled out citing ‘bubble fatigue’ while India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took a break to be with his family, fighting the virus.
Menon and Reiffel are first two match officials to pull out of the league midway. The BCCI was expecting another Australian umpire, Rod Tucker to fly to India for IPL but he too has informed the board that he won’t be making it to the sub-continent due to personal reasons.
On Tuesday, BCCI’s interim chief executive officer Hemang Amin wrote to all eight IPL teams, players, officials, commentators as well as coaching and support staff that the board will arrange smooth transport back home once the tournament gets over. The BCCI advisory came after the Australian government decided to halt all flights from India till May 15.
“We understand that many of you are apprehensive about how you will get back home once the tournament concludes, which is natural and understandable. We want to apprise you that you have nothing to worry about. The BCCI will do everything to ensure that you reach your respective destinations seamlessly. The BCCI is monitoring the situation very closely and is working with the government authorities to make arrangements to get you home once the tournament concludes. Be rest assured that the tournament is not over for BCCI till each one of you has reached your home, safe and sound,” Amin wrote in an email.
Mumbai Indians batsman Chris Lynn had even asked Cricket Australia to charter a flight for players to get back home once the tournament was over. But Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made it clear that cricketers playing in the IPL will not get any sort of preferential treatment.
“They have travelled there privately. This wasn’t part of an Australian tour. They’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources too, I’m sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with their own arrangements,” Morrison was quoted by The Guardian.
Cricket Australia, on its part, said they were having ‘regular dialogues with players, coaches, match officials and commentators on the ground in India’.
“We will continue to liaise closely with the Australian government following the announcement that direct flights from India to Australia will be paused till May 15…”