By Neto Baptiste
There is no doubt that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has significantly altered the manner in which both professional sports and athletes operate and that from having to spend a vast majority of their downtime in a bubble to being tested countess number of times for the deadly virus, the mental heal of both athletes and officials are being pushed to the limits.
Just recently, 12 of the region’s top cricketers, including Test captain Jason Holder, declined to take part in the upcoming tour of Bangladesh due to health concerns.
Joining Holder in making themselves unavailable for the tour are vice-captain Roston Chase, T20 captain Kieron Pollard, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, and Nicholas Pooran. Fabian Allen and Shane Dowrich will be unavailable because of personal reasons.
Although not said by any of the 12 players, pundits believe that mental fatigue could have played a major role in their decision.
Two of Antigua’s international cricketers in spinner Rahkeem Cornwall and fast bowler Alzarri Joseph, while speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, addressed that very issue.
Cornwall, who said he has been tested at least 50 times since the start of the pandemic, likened some bubbles to being imprisoned.
“I’ve been in a couple of bubbles and it’s a mental challenge because you have to remain focus in terms of knowing what you really want to get out of it but to be in a room for three days or four days straight with just walls, it’s best you just go to prison but you just have to fight through it,” he said.
“The CPL bubble was 11 days straight isolation in your room, you can’t go anywhere, you can’t even peep outside and people would just knock on your door and leave the food outside and you just pick it up and go back inside,” he added.
Cornwall has toured England and New Zealand and is also set to tour Bangladesh starting January 10.
Joseph, who admitted that he is usually confined to his room on tour, said he has probably been tested over 100 times. He however does not allow it affect him mentally.
“It’s been fairly ok for me because normally when I go on tour I really don’t leave my room. I just go, focus on cricket and that’s what I am there to play so I just stick to my room. It also depends on the country you go to because some are easier and some are a bit more uncomfortable,” he said.
Joseph will play in both the Test and ODI squads.
In October this year, England all-rounder Ben Stokes stated that it is difficult to stay in a bio-bubble for long. He was, at the time in UAE playing for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League 2020.