FIXTURES | POINTS TABLE
This has come a day after three Australian players decided to leave the tournament fearing a lockout back home. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday announced that the Australian players, coaches and commentators will have to make their own travel arrangements as the country suspended passenger air travel from India till May 15.
TOI, on Tuesday, had reported that Cricket Australia (CA) and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have been in talks with BCCI over a safe passage for their players after the IPL, and an idea of charter flights is being mooted.
“We understand that many of you are apprehensive about how you will get back home once the tournament concludes, which is natural and understandable. We want to apprise you that you have nothing to worry about. The BCCI will do everything to ensure that you reach your respective destinations seamlessly,” IPL COO Hemang Amin wrote in a letter to all the players and support staff on Tuesday.
“The BCCI is monitoring the situation very closely and is working with the government authorities to make arrangements to get you home once the tournament concludes. Be rest assured that the tournament is not over for BCCI till each one of you has reached your home, safe and sound,” Amin’s letter added.
The board has also strengthened the bio-bubble by increasing the frequency of RT-PCR tests to a test every two days and banning online food delivery.
Unending bubble in sight, a stronger mental health programme needed
TOI also understands that it’s not just the foreign players who were getting anxious but some of the regular India players are also getting a bit edgy with the current situation. There are players who have been stuck in hotels for nine months now.
With the Indian team slated to travel to England right after the IPL for the World Test Championship and a five-Test series, they may well have to be in a bubble till the T20 World Cup in October-November.
Sources said these players have had very little time with their families, and the situation outside the bubble also has got them worried with a few of their relatives contracting the virus.
While some of the IPL franchises have a helpline number for mental health queries, the BCCI doesn’t have a structured mental health programme. TOI has learnt there has been no session on educating the players on mental health, unlike the system in England and Australia.
The BCCI, on its part, has made it clear to the players that the board will extend its full support if any of the players decided to come out of the bubble at any given point of time.
“The Indian players are not aware of mental health issues. They need to be educated about it. There needs to be a structure that will make it easier for Indian players who are brought up in a culture where mental health is seldom discussed,” a BCCI source told TOI.
Working out vaccination programme
The board is also trying to work out a vaccination drive for its players. TOI understands that there are a few franchises that can carry out this drive like they do for their corporate employees. Some of the players are a bit concerned about not getting vaccinated before they leave for England.
BCCI has left it to the players’ consent at the moment.
However, there is a concern about players developing side effects in the middle of the IPL and missing out on matches. The board and franchises are trying to work out a plan to vaccinate as many players as possible.