’Best thing’: IPL defended as Aussie donations flow

Australian cricket’s donations to the Indian COVID-19 crisis have topped $150,000 after Cricket Australia pledged $50,000 to help the “distressing” situation on the subcontinent.

It comes after star fast bowler Pat Cummins donated $50,000 from his own pocket and Test great Brett Lee pledged one Bitcoin, worth roughly $55,000, to help the dire situation.

Interim CA boss Nick Hockley said the governing body’s contribution, in conjunction with the Australian Cricketers Association, was hopefully the start of a bigger contribution.

“Australians and Indians share a special bond and, for many, our mutual love of cricket is central to that friendship,” Hockley said.

“It has been distressing and saddening to learn of the suffering of so many of our Indian sisters and brothers during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, and our hearts go out to everyone impacted.

“We were all deeply moved by the sentiments expressed and donations given by Pat Cummins and Brett Lee over the past week.

Brilliant work @BrettLee_58 👏🏼#WeAreInThisTogetherhttps://t.co/6sY6tiCzyE

“In that same spirit, we are proud to partner with UNICEF Australia to raise funds that will help the people of India by providing the health system with much-needed oxygen, testing equipment and vaccines.”

There are still 36 Australian cricketers, coaches and commentators in India for the Indian Premier League, including Test stars Steve Smith and Dave Warner.

Plans for them to return to Australia at the end of the tournament remain up in the air after a travel ban was put in place by the federal government, banning any entries from India until at least May 15.

Former Test opener Michael Slater left India and travelled to the Maldives where he will wait until the ban ends, while Australian players AJ Tye, Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa have already returned home from the IPL

Amid criticism of the IPL continuing while India struggles to cope with coronavirus, national coach Ravi Shastri defended the tournament and said it was the “best thing happening”.

“The IPL is not taking oxygen cylinders from hospitals,” Shastri told SEN’s Gerard Whateley.

“Nor are they asking for any drugs or hospital beds. You must remember everyone in the IPL is in a bubble and are not playing in front of crowds.

“I say to people, ‘Tell me what type of damage it is doing compared to the smile it is putting on people’s faces?’”

The IPL runs until the end of May.

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