India’s second wave of Covid-19 continues to gather pace, with more than 100,000 new cases being reported daily and nearly 13 million infections. It is against this grim backdrop that the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will get underway from April 9, continuing until the end of May.
With the IPL bubble already proving vulnerable – there has been a growing number of positive cases – uncertainty looms large. Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, who opted out of the 2021 season last week, has cited the raging pandemic as the reason for his withdrawal. “Covid concern was the main reason I pulled out,” Hazlewood told Sportstar.
Hazlewood, the Chennai Super Kings fast bowler, became the third Australian player after Josh Philippe (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and Mitchell Marsh (Sunrisers Hyderabad), to withdraw ahead of this season.
Hazlewood has been in bio-secure bubbles from August 2020 to January this year, but says he has “no real issue with them.”
Our correspondents Vijay Lokapally, Shayan Acharya and Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya discuss the men’s side’s season thus far and what to look forward to in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League.
“It all depends on how tight the bubbles are. Some are easier than others, and obviously, quarantine is a different story entirely. Everyone is different. I have no real issues.”
-Not too bothered-
Hazlewood was named in Australia’s Test squad to travel to South Africa. But with the tour getting postponed due to safety concerns and Australia failing to make the World Test Championship final, the next long-form game for Hazlewood and Aussies will be during the Ashes at home in December. But the lengthy gap doesn’t bother the 30-year-old too much.
“I’ve found that I’ve gotten used to it over the years. The international schedule is so full-on with all the different formats. We have only just recently had a big gap between Test matches due to Covid. I have no issue with it, and if I’m playing cricket, no matter the format, I’ll be fine,” he said.
Hazlewood is, however, happy at the opportunity to play with the New South Wales. “We have two finals in the space of a week, which is exciting and would be a great way to finish off the season.”
Meanwhile, three years after his exit as Australia’s captain in the aftermath of the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, Steve Smith has said he is keen to lead the national side again if an opportunity came his way. And Hazlewood thinks Smith is well placed to again lead Australia in Test cricket.
“He has a broader experience and has been through a lot of challenging situations in the last few years. I think he is probably in a better position now rather than when he first became captain.”