Cricketers’ long family, social isolation not sustainable, says Rajasthan Royals owner

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Cricket administrators should be “very sensitive” to the mental health impacts of the bio-secure environments cricketers are playing these days due to Covid-19 pandemic, advised Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rajasthan Royals (RR) lead owner Manoj Badale on Friday.

Badale, who has been associated with IPL/RR since the tournament’s inception in 2008, was perhaps talking of the feedback he must have surely received from RR players and the management. Australian Steve Smith captained the team, which played brilliantly only in patches.

It is, however, not known if the bio-bubble, in which all the teams lived for the 53-day long tournament in the United Arab Emirates, was one of the reasons why RR ended up with their worst ever performance in the 13-year IPL history by finishing eighth.

“The game’s regulators need to be very sensitive to the mental health impacts of the bio-secure environments. Initially, I think everyone – players included – were just happy to be back playing,” Badale said at the virtual lunch of his book, A New Innings, co-authored by cricketer-turned-broadcaster Simon Hughes.

“However, prolonged periods of family isolation, travel isolation, and social isolation are not sustainable. Equally, players will be nervous about making themselves unavailable as there is so much competition for place,” Badale warned.

While suggesting a way out of the current, strict bio-bubble rules, Badale suggested a few steps. “Clear rotational policies, breaks, and careful management of an over-crowded calendar will be required,” he said.

Even former India Test player Yajurvindra Singh had warned this month about handling the mental and physical bubble with care.

“…from reports one gathers that the mental aspect of being isolated, cocooned, and restricted from the world outside has had some significant and concerning effects on a few of them,” Singh had written in a column for IANS on November 7.

“Cricket can be mentally very hard on players not performing well in normal conditions. However, in these circumstances their failures would be even worse. It is the state of these lows when cricketers find solace in the arms of their close and loved ones. The present conditions of living in a bio safety environment do make it difficult for a player to feel comfortable to divulge his problems and discuss his issues with others,” he had said.

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