- Graeme Smith said the last of the South Africans that were playing in the now-suspended IPL should depart India by Friday.
- Smith credited his contemporaries at the BCCI for helping swiftly extradite the 11 South African players.
- India reported 3 980 deaths and more than 412 000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, per AFP.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) director of cricket Graeme Smith said the last of the South Africans that were playing in the now-suspended Indian Premier League (IPL) should depart India by Friday.
Speaking to media on Thursday, Smith credited his contemporaries at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for helping swiftly extradite the 11 South African players that were at the IPL.
The IPL was suspended earlier this week after the Covid-19 surge in India penetrated the tournament’s bio-safe environment (BSE) or bio-bubble, resulting in a number of positive tests in teams.
Key Proteas players Faf du Plessis, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi posted on their social media platforms on Tuesday that they were en route home.
"I think they've (Indian cricket) been exemplary in the way they've gotten the players out," said Smith.
"From our own players’ perspective, it’s been made slightly easier by the fact that our borders aren’t closed and there’s still commercial travel available for them.
"Not all our players are out of India yet [but] in the next day or two that will happen. We have got some players who have already arrived home but not all of them are here.
"By 7 May all of them will be out. The duty of care they (BCCI) in getting everyone home has been exemplary."
Australian, English and New Zealand players have faced a tougher time of it because of travel bans instituted in those countries of flights departing India.
India, meanwhile, reported 3 980 deaths and more than 412 000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, per AFP.
Smith, who knows full well the difficulty of the situation facing Indian cricket authorities after the England tour to SA bubble fiasco last year, said CSA weren’t credited enough for the many secure BSEs it has executed since the pandemic outbreak.
"I think CSA has put on 15 or 16 BSEs this season and I don’t think enough has been made of the success that we’ve had," Smith added.
"Going back to the England tour and the challenges we had there, there is a bit of an unpredictable nature about Covid.
"Sometimes you can do whatever you want but the BSE is never full-proof. The fact that we’ve had a lot of success in doing it, you have to give credit to our doctors and compliance officers.
"When Covid is raging in your country, there’s always a risk and, unfortunately, once it gets inside it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen.
"It’s obviously a very challenging time for them. The IPL is a huge tournament in the cricket world. In no way would we judge.
"Having spoken to the players, they felt safe and that the BSE was a really good experience in India.
"They never felt at risk but that’s the nature of what Covid brings in terms of its challenge."