The tournament was postponed indefinitely on Tuesday morning due to the country’s ongoing coronavirus crisis, with the lucrative Twenty20 competition previously taking place against the grim backdrop of a public health emergency.
India’s daily infection rates recently topped 400,000 and mass oxygen shortages had been reported before the IPL was finally suspended after positive cases in three of the eight franchises were recorded to show the players’ bio-secure bubbles are no longer safe.
The majority of England’s players involved in the tournament – including Yorkshire duo Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan – were expected to fly home on Tuesday night and once they do arrive on UK shores, they can expect a mandatory 10-day quarantine in a Government-approved hotel due to India’s status as a ‘red list’ country.
While organisers had attempted to position the IPL as a potential source of succour and entertainment for a cricket-loving population in the grip of a hard lockdown, it was suspended with just over half of its 60 scheduled matches completed.
With squads in isolation, fixtures deferred and confidence in the environment waning, the league’s general council unanimously voted to call a stop, with attention instead turning to seeing participants off in a timely and safe manner.
Anxiety was growing among the English contingent, headed up by limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, despite the England and Wales Cricket Board being on hand to provide support and advice on a daily basis.
Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Bairstow, Chris Woakes, Malan, Chris Jordan, Sam Billings, Jason Roy, Tom and Sam Curran made up the 10 other England players still at the tournament.
Morgan (Kolkata Knight Riders), Bairstow and Roy (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Moeen Ali and Sam Curran (Chennai Super Kings) were all at franchises that had positive cases in camp and earlier on Tuesday the ECB thanked the Board of Control for Cricket in India, who had taken the lead on repatriation.
A spokesperson said: “Following (Tuesday) morning’s postponement of the Indian Premier League, we are in close contact with our players and staff in India as arrangements are put in place for them to return home safely.”