Australian cricketers have been released from hotel quarantine in emotional scenes in Sydney after escaping an increasing COVID threat in India.
Pat Cummins, Steve Smith and David Warner were among 38 players, coaches, officials and commentators to be released from mandatory 14-day quarantine at Sydney’s Marriott Hotel.
The Australian players had been competing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but fled the country as a deadly third wave took hold and the Twenty20 competition was suspended indefinitely in early May.
Many of the players had not seen their family since heading to the IPL in early April.
Cummins and his pregnant partner Becky Boston were emotional when they reunited.
Fast bowler Jason Behrendorff said it was “nice to have some fresh air” after leaving hotel quarantine.
Behrendorff said it was “tough” being stuck in India and he was “relieved” to be home.
“It was nice to know that we were getting home that’s for sure,” Behrendorff said.
“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.”
Players were forced to charter planes to Sri Lanka and the Maldives after the Australian government placed a temporary travel ban on Australians returning home.
India’s governing cricket body, the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI), paid for the flights and accommodation.
That travel ban ended on May 15, however it was not before a war of words erupted between former Australian cricketer-turned commentator Michael Slater and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Slater accused Mr Morrison of having “blood on this hands” for not allowing Australians to return.
“How dare you treat us like this,” he tweeted. “I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect.”
Mr Morrison in turn labelled Slater’s comments as “absurd”.
He said the ban was a “temporary pause” due to the rapid escalation of infection rates in India.
Australian cricketers Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson and Andrew Tye paid their own way home last month.
Earlier this month Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Todd Greenberg said all players in the IPL “signed up with their eyes wide open” about the risks of competing during a pandemic.
However, Mr Greenberg said the unexpected border closure had “created some anxiety for them”.