Jos Buttler celebrates reaching his fifty while playing for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL
England’s Jos Buttler was due to fly home from India on Tuesday

England players began flying home on Tuesday after the Indian Premier League (IPL) was suspended following an increase in coronavirus cases.

IPL players including Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and brothers Sam and Tom Curran have either already left or will do so on Wednesday.

Nobody connected to England is thought to have tested positive for Covid-19.

On Tuesday the IPL said it had “unanimously decided” to postpone the season after an emergency meeting.

It added: “The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL.

“This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and wellbeing of all the stakeholders in mind. These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times.

“The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021.”

Over the weekend, India recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll since the pandemic began.

The country has recorded more than 20 million cases, and so far reported more than 222,000 deaths from the virus.

Monday’s match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore was postponed after two KKR players tested positive.

A Sunrisers Hyderabad player also tested positive before Tuesday’s match against Mumbai Indians.

Wednesday’s match between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals had earlier been called off after Chennai bowling coach Lakshmipathy Balaji tested positive.

The IPL, taking place across six venues in India, is the richest franchise tournament in world cricket, with eight franchises representing different Indian cities in matches of 20 overs per side.

The Twenty20 tournament features global cricketing superstars purchased by the franchises at auction, including India icon Virat Kohli. Fourteen England players were signed up for the 2021 season, although injury had ruled out Jofra Archer.

Teams were staying within secure areas of hotels and resorts in the various cities and did not have contact with people outside the bubble.

ECB ‘in close contact’ with players

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has no plans to arrange a charter flight for the England contingent in India as it is the responsibility of the franchises to get the players and staff home.

When the players leave India, they will have to be tested before departure and upon arrival in the UK, and then quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

Though none of those connected to England is believed to have tested positive for Covid-19, it is unknown whether any have been in close contact with those who have.

An ECB spokesperson said: “We are in close contact with our players and staff in India as arrangements are put in place for them to return home safely.”

Cricket Australia said it was working with the BCCI to ensure the “safe accommodation and repatriation” of its players.

Last week, Australia banned all flights from India until 15 May and CA said it “will not seek exemptions”.

Cricket South Africaexternal-link said it would ensure all South African players were helped to get home.

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