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Australian cricketers set to return from Maldives once India travel ban lifts

Australia’s Indian Premier League contingent could return home in coming days, with cricket administrators hopeful of getting the green light from the federal government.

The majority of the 38-strong group of IPL players, coaches and commentators are still in the Maldives, having departed India last Thursday on a charter flight.

Mike Hussey, who remained in India to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19, is the exception. Hussey, as of Friday morning, was still awaiting the negative test result that would allow him to link up with compatriots in the Maldives.

Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association are upbeat that Hussey will be able to fly home alongside the likes of Pat Cummins and Steve Smith, but that will depend on his health and Scott Morrison’s government.

CA and the ACA are awaiting guidance from the federal government regarding its India travel ban and hope to have an itinerary rubber stamped soon.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is overseeing and funding arrangements for Australians involved in the IPL, living up to its pledge to ensure everybody involved returns home safely.

The IPL contingent is expected to board a charter flight out of the Maldives, potentially as early as this weekend, then land in Sydney and enter NSW’s hotel-quarantine system.

It is not yet clear if the number of hotel quarantine places available to regular Australians wanting to repatriate will be impacted by the cricket cohort’s arrival into the system in NSW.

Cricket Australia and the players’ union have insisted they are not seeking to queue jump or seek preferential treatment.

Last year Australia and India’s national cricket squads were granted permission by the NSW government to leave their hotel and train while quarantining, but that is unlikely to be the case again.

“The absolute priority is to get them home safe and well,” CA interim chief executive Nick Hockley told reporters last week. “We are not seeking any kind of special exemptions whatsoever.

“We will work with the Australian government and the relevant state governments to make sure we’re not taking spaces of anyone else … that is what we’re committed to doing.”

The recently-introduced India travel ban dictated that Australians must spend a fortnight outside the coronavirus-ravaged nation before returning, otherwise they risked fines and jail time.

Morrison announced last week the pause would end on 15 May, allowing the resumption of repatriation flights, but opted against making a call on commercial flights.

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