Former Australian cricket opener Michael Slater has accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of having blood on his hands for banning citizens from returning home from India. His overnight Twitter tirade came after news the Indian Premier League’s biosecurity bubble has been breached by multiple COVID-19 cases, including two teammates of Australia’s vice-captain Pat Cummins.
On Monday night, Kolkata Knight Riders were slated to face Royal Challengers Bangalore in Ahmedabad, but that game has been postponed. Kolkata’s Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier tested positive for COVID-19, but their teammates have returned negative tests.
Cummins and compatriot Ben Cutting are playing for the franchise, while Australian coach David Hussey is part of their support staff. If the competition shuts down, Cummins and others among a group of almost 40 Australian players, coaches, and officials will be stuck in no man’s land. That’s because the Morrison government has banned all incoming travelers from India until at least 15 May.
Slater, attempting to return home to Australia from cricket commentary duties in India, launched a tirade against the prime minister on Monday night.
“If our government cared for the safety of Aussies, they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!!” tweeted Slater, who has reportedly made it to the Maldives, where he will wait to come home.
Blood on your hand’s PM. How dare you treat us like this.
“And those who think this is a money exercise. Well, forget it,” he tweeted a few hours later.
“This is what I do for a living and I have not made a penny having left early. So please stop the abuse and think of the thousands dying in India each day. It’s called empathy. If only our government had some!”
Speaking to the Seven Network, Mr. Morrison urged Australians stuck in India to be “patient and understanding.”
“This is a two-week pause, not a permanent pause; it’s not a four-month lockdown,” he said, adding that Australians who have not been in India for at least 14 days are currently able to return home.
“The decision was recommended by our Chief Medical Officer, very clearly, that it was proportionate to the risk we were seeing.”
Last week, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson fled the IPL, returning home via Qatar, but any Australian attempting that journey now risks jail time and fines.
Some Australian players remain hopeful that commercial flights will resume by the end of the month, while others are bracing for contingency plans that involve a two-week stopover in another nation.
Last week, Cummins donated $50,000 to help India combat its health crisis, playing a central role in logistical discussions between stressed Australian cricketers, CA, and the ACA.
A potential charter flight, which would need to be approved by the federal government, has formed part of those talks. However, CA chief executive Nick Hockley insisted on Monday, “there’s no suggestion at the moment of any charter flight”. Complicating matters is Australia’s limited-overs tour of the West Indies in June, with Cummins and other stars facing a tight turnaround if their homecoming is delayed.