Foreign cricketers ‘give up on mental health’ amid COVID: Ganguly

Comments likely to cause controversy after many players, including Indian captain Virat Kohli, highlighted being continually restricted to hotels and stadiums.

BCCI chief Ganguly gestures as he leaves Apollo hospital in Kolkata [File: Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP]

Indian cricket chief Sourav Ganguly has stoked a debate on the pressures of bio-secure bubble cricket by saying Indian cricketers are better at handling mental health than foreign players.

The former national team captain and president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said many England, Australia and West Indies cricketers “just give up on mental health”.

The comments could cause controversy after many players, including India captain Virat Kohli, highlighted the struggles top players are facing in continually being restricted to staying within hotels and stadiums.

Kohli said last month that players were being “cooked” in bio-secure bubbles while England’s policy of rotating and resting tour squad members has been criticised by pundits but defended by players.

Ganguly’s comments come before the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Friday which will see international players spending up to eight weeks in a bio-secure environment for the world’s richest Twenty20 tournament.

“I feel, we Indians are a bit more tolerant than overseas [cricketers],” Ganguly told a promotional event late on Tuesday, acknowledging the pressures all players endure.

“I’ve played with a lot of Englishmen, Australians, West Indians, they just give up on mental health,” he added.

“In the last six to seven months, with so much cricket going on in the bio-bubble, it’s so tough. Just going from the hotel room to the ground … it’s an absolutely different life.”

The BCCI president noted that Australia had pulled out of a three-Test tour of South Africa in March citing an “unacceptable” coronavirus risk to players.

“Look at the Australian team, they were supposed to go to South Africa for a Test series after India played there. They refused to go there.”

He added: “And always there’s this scare of COVID. ‘Hope it’s not me the next time.’ You have to stay positive, you have to train yourself mentally. All of us have to train ourselves mentally so that only good will happen. It boils down to training.”

The IPL, to be held in six cities without spectators, will take place against the backdrop of a new surge in cases in India.

Source: AFP