By Khurram Habib
Ahmedabad, March 6 (IANS) Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of the Indian cricket team has been in a bio-bubble for almost half a year now, locked up in hotels through the IPL, Australia tour and in the home series against England with the Indian cricket board and the team management not giving them any break as has been afforded to players from England.
Only skipper Virat Kohli got a break although that was paternity leave.
Eventually it paid off as India could feature their best side and didn’t have to worry about combinations. Unlike England’s controversy over Moeen Ali’s departure and criticism that they aren’t fielding their best side and getting stuck with combinations that saw them lose crucial phases over the last three Tests, India have had it smooth.
India coach Ravi Shastri on Saturday admitted that the bio-bubble has taken its toll.
“Six months in the bio-bubble, seeing the same faces — the bubble will burst. It’s tough. For professional players, when they are under the hammer, it’s really tough to get your best out and deliver for your country,” said Shastri.
“It’s very easy to be hard on the boys. But from the beginning, when the season started, our main aim was to show empathy. Because these are tough times. You have not seen these times since World War 2. It’s hard to play in the bubble, so you have got to show empathy and they have been magnificent,” he said.
India off-spinner R. Ashwin, who won the man-of-the-series award for his 32 wickets and important century in the second Test that he made in the second Test in Chennai, said that getting restricted to hotels has been tough. They have not been able to move.
According to sources, hotels during the IPL in UAE at least had open spaces.
“There were beaches or some open spaces like that within the hotels during the IPL. You weren’t restricted to your rooms. However, in India and Australia it has been different,” said an official in the know of things.
Post the T20I and ODI series, India head to the IPL which again will be held in India with a break of about a fortnight. The players will once again be restricted to the hotels.
Ashwin elaborated on what Shastri said while speaking to the media.
“I think in terms of empathy, he is talking about the challenging situations in Australia and how we had to deal with what we were presented with there. Suddenly, from saying that you can head out and be normal to going back into the bubble,” said Ashwin while referring to authorities in Australia first allowing them to go out and then changing stance and restricting them to hotels.
“We needed to get some fresh air sometimes. The hotels can get claustrophobic where you don’t even get fresh air. In Australia, there were situations, where you did not have window panes opening and for 14 days or 20 days or 25 days, that can be quite taxing.”
England skipper Joe Root said that Covid-19 will stay for a while and they have opted for the rotation policy for a good reason which they don’t regret. Importantly, he said they don’t want to make it an excuse.
“You can look for excuses about it. It (Covid-19) is not going to go away. It is really important that we look after our players. It is a big year of cricket. There are three formats to consider. We have to look at what’s next but most importantly, look after our players,” said Root.