Charter flight may return Maldives-bound Australia players this week

Steven Smith and Ricky Ponting have a chat ahead of the game BCCI/IPL

Australian cricketers, coaches and media currently stranded in the Maldives may be able to return to home shores as soon as Sunday.

Cricket Australia, the Australian Cricketers Association and the BCCI are still awaiting confirmation from the Australian government that citizens who have recently been to India will be allowed to return to home shores after May 15 as previously flagged.

However, under plans currently being thrashed out on that condition, the group of 38 would be able to take a charter flight out of the Maldives via Malaysia to Sydney on May 16, where they would then serve their mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association have been at great pains to ensure that this return would take place over and above the allowable cap of overseas arrivals to New South Wales so that no other inbound travellers miss out as a result.

"The BCCI is putting in place the best possible arrangements. We're not seeking any kind of special exemptions whatsoever," CA's chief executive Nick Hockley said when addressing the matter on May 5.

"We will - any kind of quarantine arrangements would be over and above the cap. So our main priority is we would work with the Australian government and the relevant state governments to make sure that we're not taking spaces of anyone else that's available. So, you know, certainly that's what we're committed to do."

It would be the second time in less than a year that the New South Wales government has answered a plea from CA for players to quarantine in the state, after the arrival of the Indian touring team last summer was flown into Sydney to quarantine after lengthy negotiations with Queensland were unsuccessful.