Cricketers are suffering after months of bio-secure “bubble” life during the coronavirus pandemic, said Indian captain Virat Kohli ahead of next month’s Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament.
Kohli raised his concerns after India beat England by seven runs in a thrilling decider to clinch the One-Day International series 2-1 in Pune on Sunday.
Players from both sides moved on immediately to join their squads for the world’s richest franchise Twenty20 tournament, which starts on April 9, and all will have to go through restrictions again in the IPL “bubble”.
“Scheduling needs to be looked at in future, because playing in bubbles for so long, two to three months, is going to be very, very difficult going forward,” Kohli said.
“You can’t expect everyone to be at the same level of mental strength. Sometimes you do get cooked and you do feel like a bit of a change.
“I am sure things will be discussed and things will change in the future as well. But a different tournament, it brings fresh challenges heading into the IPL.” Kohli added.
Since August last year, most international players have been restricted to staying inside bio-secure “bubbles” with only small breaks.
From September to January, India’s players went through similar quarantine and isolation regimes in the delayed 2020 IPL in the UAE and their tour of Australia before having a short break ahead of the home England series which comprised four Tests, five Twenty20 matches and three ODIs.
England’s rest-and-rotate policy ensured players had breaks during their three months touring Sri Lanka – where they played two Tests – and India.
England player Jos Buttler, meanwhile, said he was “excited” to take part in the tournament which lasts until May 30. He said England management had kept players in top mental and physical shape.
“It’s been great that everyone’s health has been really looked after and whenever it’s possible to get out of the bubble and back in,” said Buttler, who stood in as captain for injured Eoin Morgan in the last two ODIs.
“So we are all very thankful of that to help with those situations and also it’s about how we plan moving forward. That’s going to be part of player welfare.”
England, who have already played six Tests in 2021, have an intensive calendar ahead and are scheduled to play another 12 Tests by January 2022: five at home against India, two against New Zealand and five away Ashes Tests in Australia.
They will also have limited-overs series at home against Sri Lanka and Pakistan before they return to India for the Twenty20 World Cup in October.