The Indian Premier League (IPL) has been hit by a series of player withdrawals amid growing concern about Covid-19 rates in the country.
India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin became the most high-profile cricketer to walk away from the lucrative Twenty20 competition when he announced he was “taking a break” on Sunday.
Australian trio Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa and Andrew Tye prematurely left their IPL teams at the weekend. The 2021 IPL season is roughly one third complete and due to finish on 30 May.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) says it is in contact with the 11 English players at the IPL but not anticipating any imminent withdrawals.
India reported more than 350,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday and a further 2,800 deaths. Its 17m confirmed cases is second only to the United States.
Ashwin, who is on a £732,000 contract at Delhi Capitals, said: “My family and extended family are putting up a fight against Covid-19 and I want to support them during these tough times. I expect to return to play if things go in the right direction.”
Australians quit IPL, England advising players
Fast bowler Richardson, leg spinner Zampa and seamer Tye are not expected to return to the IPL this year.
Richardson, 30, and Zampa, 29, were signed to Royal Challengers Bangalore on contracts worth £385,000 and £144,000 respectively.
Tye, 34, who quit a £96,000 contract with Rajasthan Royals, said he had been anxious to return to Australia in case it stopped accepting arrivals from India.
“I just thought I should try and get on the front foot and get home before I got locked out of the country,” he said.
Eoin Morgan, Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow are among the English players at the IPL.
Finger injuries ruled out Jofra Archer and curtailed Ben Stokes’s involvement, while Liam Livingstone left last week citing “bubble fatigue”.
“We continue to monitor and work with the players on an individual basis,” an ECB spokesperson told the Press Association.
“We are offering advice daily to those that seek it. Our thoughts are with the people of India during these difficult times.”