Australian cricket legend Michael Hussey has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
The 45-year-old was working as a batting coach for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, and is one of many Australians trapped in the country following Scott Morrison’s decision to introduce a hard border closure.
Early on Wednesday morning AEST, The Times of India reported Hussey had become the first Australian in the IPL bubble to test positive for the coronavirus.
According to the publication, he was tested twice with both coming back positive.
The glamorous T20 tournament was indefinitely suspended on Tuesday evening after several cricketers and staff members contracted the virus.
The Kolkata Knight Riders were placed in isolation after players Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier tested positive on Monday, along with three staff members from the Super Kings — chief executive officer Kasi Viswanathan, bowling coach Lakshmipathy Balaji and a bus cleaner.
The IPL decided to take an indefinite pause on Tuesday as Sunrisers Hyderabad wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha — a teammate of David Warner — joined the growing list.
Television crew and venue staff also contracted coronavirus as the integrity of the tournament’s biosecurity bubble was compromised.
Hussey played 79 Test matches and 185 one-day internationals for Australia, scoring 22 centuries and 11,677 runs.
He featured in the 2006/07 Ashes whitewash and 2007 Cricket World Cup triumph.
More than 30 Australian players, commentators, umpires and coaching staff participated in the IPL — including Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell and Ricky Ponting.
The Australian talent in India now face an anxious wait to get home, with Morrison’s Government introducing fines of up to $66,600 or five years in prison for anyone defying the strict travel ban — currently in place until May 15.
The temporary measure was designed to allow for hotel quarantine upgrades in Australia before an influx of citizens fleeing COVID-ravaged India.
Last week, Morrison said Australian cricket players and coaches in India would not be given preferential treatment.
“They’ve travelled there privately under their own arrangements. This wasn’t part of an Australian tour,” Morrison said.
“And they’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources, I’m sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with our own arrangements.”
The Aussies knew they would be required to spend 14 days in quarantine upon returning home — they did not anticipate being locked out of the country with a threat of jail time.
“Up until now, I felt incredibly safe in the bubble they created,” Cummins told Fox Sports’ Back Page from his Ahmedabad hotel room on Tuesday.
“Arriving, we had to do seven days quarantine, tests every two days, we had to wear masks in the hotel, literally the only people we have seen are hotel staff who are getting tested every day and members of our team.
“Once we flew out from Australia, we knew we faced 14 days quarantine coming home, so you always feel that little bit further away from getting home, but as soon as that hard border shut, obviously no one has ever experienced that before.
“It added a little bit of anxiety for some of the Aussies over here, but hopefully it all opens on May 15 and we are able to get back.”
Earlier this week, Indian coach Ravi Shastri told SEN that the IPL bubbles were the safest place in India.
Kolkata teammate Ben Cutting told Fox Sports: “Last year we had the IPL held over in the UAE and that was, you know, an incredibly, incredibly well run tournament. No hiccups at all.
“I think this year they tried to push that little step further and have it over in multiple cities in India. So I’m sure looking back, there might have tweaked a few things.
“It’s a shame, and there’s obviously there’s been a few cases in the last couple of days.
“Up until now felt incredibly safe and confident in the bubble they’ve created.”
IPL commentator and former Australian Test batter Michael Slater flew to the Maldives on the weekend, where he will wait until he can legally return home.
According to The Australian, some of the 30-odd Australians are considering a similar move — there is also talk of ordering a charter flight to Dubai.
Slater tweeted on Monday evening: “If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!
“Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system.
“I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect.”
On Tuesday, Warner has shared an emotional Instagram post with a message from his daughters and wife with a desperate plea: “Please Daddy come home straight away”.
Australian cricketers Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson returned home last week before the travel restrictions were introduced.
Last month, West Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh and New South Wales paceman Josh Hazlewood abandoned their IPL commitments before travelling to Asia.
India is recording approximately 360,000 cases and 3500 deaths a day and has been hit by chronic shortages of hospital beds and oxygen.
A huge international effort is underway to deliver much-needed oxygen to cities around India where coronavirus cases have skyrocketed to the point where people infected, including babies, have died while waiting for treatment outside hospitals.
Long queues were seen at vaccination centres across the weekend, with people desperate to be inoculated against a disease that has overwhelmed the healthcare system.
Social media platforms have been flooded with pleas from people looking for oxygen cylinders, medicines and hospital beds as the COVID-19 wave causes widespread shortages.
Last week, Cummins donated $50,000 to help the nation fight the outbreak, calling for other players to contribute.
Cricket Australia and the Australia Cricketers’ Association released a joint statement on Tuesday following the IPL’s decision to postpone the tournament.
“CA is in direct contact with the BCCI as they work through plans to ensure the safe accommodation and repatriation of Australian players, coaches, match officials and commentators back home to Australia,” the statement read.
“CA and the ACA respect the decision of the Australian Government to pause travel from India until at least May 15 and will not seek exemptions.
“CA and the ACA thank the BCCI for their efforts and co-operation for the safe repatriation of all participants at the IPL.”
India is scheduled to host the Men’s T20 World Cup in October, with several reports suggesting the event could be moved to the United Arab Emirates.