ICC provides psychologists for players at T20 World Cup

Filed on October 7, 2021
India captain Virat Kohli too has commented on mental health. — AP file

Leading players have complained about the pressures of going from bubble to bubble in different tours and tournaments

Psychologists will monitor players at the T20 World Cup to help cope with the growing number of mental health cases in coronavirus safety bubbles, cricket’s governing body said Thursday.

Pandemic strain has become increasingly apparent in recent months with England’s Ben Stokes on a prolonged mental health break, and other leading players complaining about the pressures of going from bubble to bubble in different tours and tournaments.

A number of players missed or left the conclusion of the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates because of bio-bubble stress.

And the 16 nations at the World Cup, starting in the UAE and Oman on October 17, will be confined to their hotels for the majority of the month-long tournament.

“Some people will be affected, their mental health will be affected by being in confined conditions again, particularly perhaps those who have done it for a prolonged period of time,” Alex Marshall, International Cricket Council head of integrity and bio safety, said.

“The ICC will have available 24 hours a day, a psychologist to speak to any individual who seeks help.

“We are also providing (a) lot of resources, so people can decide what the best way of addressing the issue is for them.”

Following comments by leading players, including India captain Virat Kohli, many teams have increased their psychological support for players ahead of the tournament.

Players and support staff will have to spend six days in isolation on arrival and pass three tests before moving into a managed environment for training.

Marshall said selfie-seeking fans will be kept away from players.

“The players will be kept separate and will have to stay within the managed environment, so there won’t be mixing direct physically between the fans and the players and I am sure everybody understands,” he said.

“As long as we maintain that sensible separation and that group maintains those disciplines, we shouldn’t get other problems throughout the tournament.

“So I am afraid at this World Cup (there) will not be an ‘arm around the shoulder-selfie opportunity’ with the players.”

Marshall said the ICC has learned from the Tokyo Olympics, Formula One world championship, Euro 2020 and the IPL.

He added players will be allowed to relax in their bio-secure space with a round of golf or a sightseeing trip.

ICC to switch to inclusive ‘batter’

The ICC will change “batsman” to the gender-neutral term “batter” in its playing conditions starting from this month’s Twenty20 World Cup.

The Lord’s-based Marylebone Cricket Club, the sole authority on the laws of the game since it was founded in 1787, last month made the change in the Laws of Cricket to stress the importance of the women’s game.

“The ICC has been utilising the term batter for some time now across our channels and in commentary and we welcome the MCC’s decision to implement it into the Laws of cricket and will follow suit with our playing conditions that are derived from the Laws,” said ICC acting CEO Geoff Allardice.

“This is a natural and perhaps overdue evolution of our sport and now our batters are gender-neutral in the same way as bowlers, fielders and wicket keepers!

“It’s a small change, but one that I hope will have significant impact on cricket being viewed as a more inclusive sport.”

England won the 2017 women’s World Cup final in front of a capacity crowd at Lord’s while the women’s World T20 final between Australia and India in 2020 attracted more than 80,000 to the Melbourne Cricket Ground in increasing signs of popularity of the women’s game.

Women’s cricket will also feature at the Commonwealth Games for the first time in 2022 in Birmingham, England.

“Why not take a small step to ensuring we’re a sport that doesn’t exclude 50% of the world’s population with outdated language choices,” Allardice said.

“Whilst some may have made lots of noise against this common-sense change, the majority of people within the game have welcomed the move.” —AFP/Reuters

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