Mumbai Indians train for IPL in UAE
Mumbai Indians have set up a friendly environment to help players with the strains of the bio-bubble in the IPL Image Credit: Twitter

The Indian Premier League is in its second week and just warming up, but the impact of bio-secure bubble has already started affecting the players.

Now, first of all, what is bio-secure bubble? It’s an environment which is created by the organisers keeping in mind the risk of the coronavirus pandemic which is cut off from the outside world. Everyone engaged in the league, that is the players, support staff, umpires and grounds man will be limited only to a few places where in they can move around. This bio-bubble is created to minimise the risk of contact from the outside world and infection which can disrupt the whole league if it affects a player or anyone involved in the middle of the league.

Most of the sporting world — be it with European football, cricket matches in Australia, England and even the series against England in India — were all played in a bio-bubble. Even the last IPL played in UAE was under a strict bio-secure environment where firstly the players who join in have to be in minimum seven days quarantine, wherein you are confined to your room and to the extent even clean your room so that you don’t come in contact with anyone from outside. After three negative tests players are eligible to join their respective teams and then go around with the squad to the stadium and back to the hotel. In fact most of the hotel staff are also not allowed to leave for their homes until the tournament is over.

Staying in such a tough and tight environment is putting a toll on the mental health of the players and that’s called ‘bubble fatigue’. Not all players can withstand such an environment where you are cut off from the outside world except being in touch with your closest ones through Zoom calls or other social media platforms and phone calls.

Liam Livingston of England was the latest to go back during the tournament as he could not withstand the strict bio-bubble which resulted in mental fatigue. Before that, Hazelwood of Australia pulled out prior to the tournament beginning, and Josh Philippe backed out as well

The best way to keep the players not feeling home sick is to create environment where they feel at home and not lost. Mumbai Indians were one of the teams that a the hotel in Abu Dhabi and created an environment where it had a beach facility and a recreation centre where the players could relax and unwind. They also went to the extent of giving all the players an option to take their families along with them so that they didn’t miss them and have that feel-good factor. Some teams have also provided a psychiatrist to understand and closely monitor the players’ mental health.

As much as players are privileged to play a sport that provides them financial security and keeps them in touch with the game, players need a break to avoid bubble fatigue as when the mind takes over the heart, it takes a mental toll on players’ health.