Psychologists to monitor players during T20 World Cup for 'mental health' issues: ICC

Published October 7, 2021
In this file photo, England cricketers are seen during a net session at Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town in Dec 2020. — AFP/File
In this file photo, England cricketers are seen during a net session at Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town in Dec 2020. — AFP/File

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 on Thursday.

The 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 (IPL) in the United Arab Emirates because of bio-bubble stress.

Read more: Chris Gayle pulls out of Indian Premier League citing 'bubble fatigue'

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 biosafety, told reporters.

“The ICC will have available a psychologist round the clock 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 Indian 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.

Also read: Australia hire mental health coach for bubble cricketers

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.

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