IPL franchises await news on South Africa players' participation

AB de Villiers and other South Africa players may have to get the better of travel restrictions to play IPL 2020 BCCI

The non-participation of most South African players in the CPL has brought into focus the possibility of them also missing parts, if not all, of the IPL season due to travel restrictions in the country because of the Covid-19 situation. With no clarity yet - the IPL governing council meeting is on Sunday- on player replacements, the franchises are searching for answers, with some reaching out to their recruits and others waiting to broach the topic.

As such, of the South African players in the IPL, Imran Tahir might be available for Chennai Super Kings. He had stayed on in Pakistan after the PSL, and is expected to join the squad soon after his CPL commitments with Guyana Amazon Warriors. The tournament is slated to finish on September 10.

Royal Challengers Bangalore, who have AB de Villiers, Chris Morris and Dale Steyn in their ranks, could be the worst hit, while Super Kings also have two key players in Faf du Plessis and Lungi Ngidi, apart from Tahir. Kagiso Rabada and Quinton de Kock are contracted with Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians respectively.

Royal Challengers could potentially have a situation where Sri Lanka's Isuru Udana could well be occupied till September 20, and thus miss their training camp, if he finds a team in the Lanka Premier League, which is being planned for an August 28 to September 20 run.

But the fact that South Africa's borders are closed might not be the biggest concern - a player agent ESPNcricinfo spoke to said the BCCI's guidelines, and a formal statement of procedure (SOP) to chart the next course of action, remain more crucial.

The CSK management too has touched base with du Plessis and Ngidi, and remain confident of their players participating. ESPNcricinfo understands that a decision on potential replacements would only be taken after the BCCI's meeting with the franchises, which is likely to take place next week.

South Africa continues to remain in lockdown, with all provincial and international borders closed. While repatriation flights continue to leave the country, there has been a blanket ban on commercial flight operations. Restrictions are likely to be lifted only after the pandemic peak passes, most likely towards the end of September.

While no franchise has been willing to come on record, there are murmurs over the possibility of teams hiring a charter flight to ferry the South African players to the UAE.

From South Africa's point of view, the absence of any significant window between the end of CPL and the start of the IPL has already led to the home season being pushed back further.

"West Indies tour of South Africa has been postponed indefinitely. We are struggling to find a time with the IPL being fitted in," Graeme Smith, the CSA director of cricket, said on Friday. "It looks like our players are going to be needed from the beginning of September, government-permitting, and travel permitting.

"Sri Lanka also [postponed]. I expect that once things get up and running, our team, on the men's side, I would say from November onwards, if all goes well, it will be a really busy period for South African cricket, probably playing in times that we haven't played before and trying to cram in a lot of the missed tours."

As such, CSA has already said that it will issue no-objection certificates to the contracted players. However, the onus then falls on the players to obtain travel permits and fulfil quarantine regulations if any.