Community leaders slam charter flight request to bring IPL stars home

Indian-Australian community leaders have criticised the idea of IPL players being flown out of India on a charter flight as thousands of Australians remain stranded in the COVID-19-ravaged nation.

India recorded more than 400,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time on Saturday and the recent surge has pushed the federal government to ban flights returning to Australia until May 15.

While some Australians in the IPL have decided to return home early, 12 players — including David Warner, Steve Smith and Pat Cummins — have decided to stick it out until the end of the season, which concludes on May 30.

Adam Zampa returned to Australia last week after choosing to leave the IPL. (Inset) Kane Williamson and David Warner, IPL teammates, suit up for an internal flight in India.Credit:

The stars will also be given COVID-19 jabs next week to continue with the tournament, despite a country-wide shortage of vaccines.

“These players are celebrated as big stars that have been picked up in the auction for sums of money. They’ve gone there to further their own financial fortunes,” Natarajan said.

“My brother and mother are still there. They are all doing it very tough. They seem to have a different rule for the celebrities and that wouldn’t wash well with an ordinary Australian citizen.”

Sydney Sindhi Association president Naveen Nankani said bringing rich cricketers home when so many Australian citizens were in dire situations would not be a good look for Cricket Australia.

“The situation has been going on since February onwards. They would have all known. They made a business decision. That applies to anyone else who has gone to India for business,” he said.

“They’ll have the vaccines before everyone else did. It would be unfair if others are not allowed to come home just because they can’t manage it of their own accord.”

Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa returned home last week after exploiting a loophole in the flight ban via a connecting flight through Doha.

Last week, Chris Lynn made an inquiry to Cricket Australia about the possibility of a charter flight.

“I texted back that as Cricket Australia make 10 per cent of every IPL contract was there a chance we could spend that money this year on a charter flight once the tournament is over?” Lynn told News Corp.

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor slammed the request on Sunday, telling Chanel 9’s Sports Sunday: “I think Chris Lynn’s comments were very rich, absolutely. The 10 per cent Cricket Australia does receive from a player’s contract over there surely has got something to do with actually providing the cricketer with some coaching, education along the way to become an IPL-worthy cricketer.”

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