Cricket-Australian IPL players released from hotel quarantine

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Second Twenty20 International - Australia v India - Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, Australia - December 6, 2020 Australia's Steve Smith walks off after being caught by Hardik Pandya off the bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal REUTERS/Loren Elliott

MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Australian cricketers, including former captain Steve Smith and David Warner, were released from hotel quarantine in Sydney on Monday after being evacuated from India amid a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Fast bowlers Pat Cummins and Jason Behrendorff were also among those released after a two-week quarantine following their return home in the wake of the Indian Premier League's suspension.

"It's always tough being stuck somewhere, and knowing that we're able to get home was a relief, and now we're out of quarantine, I can't wait to get home and see my family," Behrendorff told Australian media.

An Australian IPL contingent of 38 players, coaches, officials and commentators were forced to take charter planes to Sri Lanka and the Maldives after the government placed a temporary ban on travellers from India due to the worsening health crisis in the Asian nation.

The ban was lifted two weeks ago.

"They’re clearly quite shaken from the experience, very appreciative to be home, to be back in Australia," Cricket Australia (CA) boss Nick Hockley told reporters on Monday.

"Now once the players are out of quarantine we will be working to offer them (COVID-19) vaccinations before heading off to the West Indies."

Cummins, Smith, Warner and Behrendorff will have only two weeks' rest before assembling in Brisbane ahead of the white-ball tour of West Indies, which starts on July 9.

The remaining matches of the IPL will be completed in the United Arab Emirates in September and October, the Indian Cricket Board said over the weekend.

CA have yet to endorse Australian players' return to the IPL, which precedes the Twenty20 World Cup in India and a big home summer featuring the five-test Ashes series and a one-off test against Afghanistan.

The IPL could provide players with a good warmup for the T20 World Cup but would also mean a prolonged and taxing stint in biosecure bubbles for the likes of Cummins, Smith and Warner.

"Once ... we get back together as a group, that’s something that obviously we’ll need to discuss," said Hockley.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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