Why England’s cricketers have a right to feel insecure about their bio-secure bubbles

The England cricket team have become accustomed to travelling around the world, spending weeks and months in the sub-continent, miles away from home, in order to play the sport that they love at the highest level. However, before the coronavirus pandemic, players would have family and friends visit and could unwind during their downtime, in between Test matches.

As a result of the pandemic, players have been forced to spend weeks and months in ‘bio-secure bubbles’. This means that no one outside of the bubble can visit these players to support them, while they are spending a lot of time outside the UK. England’s ODI captain and World Cup winner Eoin Morgan cautioned it is “untenable” for players to spend prolonged periods inside these environments.

As the bubble’s impact is feared to damage a player’s mental health and wellbeing, the England and Wales Cricket Board will offer a mental health screening before players commit to further tours. They are also hiring a mental health supervisor for the team. Chief Executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Tom Harrison claimed that this role would be a “permanent position”, looking at “mental wellbeing as part of our high-performance setup.”

England stayed in these bio-secure bubbles during the summer in Manchester and Southampton. However, next time it will be different as they will be playing in Sri Lanka and India. This will be a lot tougher for the players as it means they will be spending months away from their families. For someone like Test captain Joe Root, whose wife gave birth to their second child in the summer, it will be challenging to leave and travel nearly five thousand miles across the world. Is it reasonable for us to expect this of players, just to provide us with entertainment?

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Drew Murphy

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May 2022
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