Life has been a bubble for international cricketers, more so for Indian players, ever since the sport resumed in keeping with stringent protocols late last year amid the unprecedented raging pandemic.
England and the West Indies may have got things going on the pitch, but the full impact was felt by the Men in Blue when the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which was played in the safe environs of the UAE, shifted its gears. Of course, a bio-bubble has been created for the safety and security of the cricketers and for all those involved with the gentleman’s game. The precautionary measures have facilitated staging of international cricket matches, which had appeared a distant reality during the onset of the contagion early last year. But living in a bubble has by no means been easy and being in one can and has taken its toll on international cricketers and organisers. Cricketers have gone on from one bubble to another for months on end and its effects are now on show. These cricketers do have a life outside cricket and they do like to do normal things. They like to be out with their mates, take in the sights, enjoy a hearty meal. They are humans after all.
Like they say, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” And the biosecurity bubble breach during India’s ongoing series in Australia was an incident waiting to happen. Five Indian players — Rohit Sharma, Shubhman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant and Navdeep Saini — were out for a meal on New Year’s Day in Melbourne and were said to have breached the biosecurity protocols. They were quickly placed in isolation from the rest of the squad. The incident almost threatened to derail India’s tour Down Under amid the backdrop of another wave of the viral outbreak sweeping through Australia. While these five players may have erred, one must cut some slack.
Some, if not most of these players, have been on the road since August ahead of the IPL’s start in September. They have been away from their loved ones, living out of suitcases, cooped up in hotel rooms and eating out of disposable cutlery in a bid to entertain fans worldwide.
Spare a thought for these cricketers who may have suffered a momentary lapse of reason.
Harder quarantine rules await the cricketers for the fourth and final Test between visitors India and hosts Australia in Brisbane on January 15.
We hope that international cricketers err on the side of caution.
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