The Biosecure environment in cricket was adopted after the COVID-19 pandemic. The standard operation protocols (SOP’s) were introduced by the England Cricket Board (ECB) during the England-West Indies series in July 2020.
This 240-page document was made for the players and team management to ensure a safe and secure environment from the novel coronavirus.
Before the start of a series, the players stay in a bubble (group) away from the rest of the population.
Each country has its own SOPs, which players must follow. However, some countries have much stricter protocols than others, dependent on the country’s COVID-19 prevailing conditions.
Visiting teams are required to arrive one month prior to the schedule to play a bilateral series. All the players undergo various tests, quarantines/isolation, etc. After completing all the various tests, they enter a team bubble. The players will then start to train and practice within the bio bubble.
Violation of the biosecure bubble is considered an offense and could lead to strict actions taken against offenders or the tour’s abandonment.
Jofra Archer had already paid the price for a bubble breach after traveling to meet his family friend during the Test series against West Indies.
There are a lot of issues faced by players staying in the bio bubble.
Jofra Archer has admitted that the bubble robs him of quality time with family, which is important to him.
“I’ll be honest. I’m not sure how many more bubbles I’ve got left in me for the rest of the year. I haven’t seen my family really since February, and it’s September now. The IPL is going to take up most of October. In November, we go to South Africa; well, hopefully, we go to South Africa. That only leaves me with a few weeks in December for the rest of the year. I love my Hobart [BBL] family, but I think I need to spend some time with my real family as well. When the year turns, we’re going to be back in a bubble in the UAE and India or somewhere. Family time is really important, especially when you’re in the bubble, and you can’t see them physically. So, any time I get, I try to spend with them,” said Archer in an IPL press conference.
It often becomes difficult for the players to stay in a closed environment for a long duration of time. For instance, an Indian core group of players has to stay in the bio bubble for six months. They have spent three months in UAE for IPL and will spend another three months in Australia for their bilateral series.
Steve Smith has underscored the mental impact the bubble can have on players.
“When guys are starting to find things a bit tough mentally from just living in the bubble, being able to get out even if it might just be a few days of being normal might be a real help. Those conversations need to be had; a player needs to spend some time normally to get out of the mental trauma associated with a life inside a bio-bubble,” said Smith.
Meanwhile, Windies’ captain Jason Holder told ESPNcricinfo. “man, it’s tough. It was a tough year. Credit to every individual who would have sacrificed their health and the risk of traveling around the world in this pandemic.”
Some countries with minimum coronavirus cases, like Australia and New Zealand, are more lenient in their SOPs as players are allowed time to move around.
For example, the Australia cricket board has allowed the team members to roam around the city without masks after completing 14 days of quarantine.
Due to the loss in cricket action during the COVID-19 period, the international cricket schedule in 2021 is jam-packed; hence, the players need to be mentally and physically ready for a tight calendar of cricket coming up.
Overall, almost all players have respected and adhered to the SOPs set by team management.
Hopefully, cricket boards will manage the players well by providing them regular breaks in-between the bilateral series and major tournaments like the T20 world cup and IPL so that they get time off-field to rejuvenate.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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