West Indies Test captain Jason Holder has warned that the mental health of players could be at risk if adjustments are not made to the bio-secure “bubbles” which have allowed for the resumption of cricket amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The top-ranked all-rounder in the longest format said while he was pleased that the protocols put in place had allowed players to continue plying their trade, playing the sport entirely in a quarantine environment could prove unsustainable.
“It’s been demanding. It has been challenging,” said the 28-year-old who was a late call up to the ongoing Indian Premier League for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
“I’m blessed to be still working. There are lots of people in the world not working because of COVID and we’re still given the opportunity to entertain people and do something we really love.
“But something needs to be thought of in order to just try to free up things a little bit more for the players’ mental health.”
A global cessation of cricket ensued last March following the outbreak of the pandemic but Holder led a West Indies side on a ground-breaking three-Test tour of England five months later, to signal the return of international cricket.
The tour was governed by strict medical protocols which saw players being forced to undergo isolation on arrival, before living and playing games at the same venue without minimal contact with the general public.
Games were played behind closed doors and players were not allowed to leave the on-site accommodation.
Holder has since been involved in the Caribbean Premier League and the IPL, with both tournaments guided by similar measures.
“I had two months in England. Then I was home literally for two days before I went to Trinidad [for the Caribbean Premier League] for a month-and-a-half,” Holder explained.
“Then I spent four or five days at home in Barbados before I got a call to come over. So you’re back into isolation.
“And if you look at scheduling, it doesn’t get any easier. It’s literally going from bubble to bubble. Some places are accepting families and some aren’t, so it makes it harder to be away from your family and your loved ones.
“I haven’t seen Barbados properly in about five months and I don’t know when I’ll get back there.”
Holder will fly from the UAE to New Zealand and enter yet another bio-secure “bubble” for West Indies’ two-Test series against the Black Caps starting in December.
The first Test runs from December 3-7 at Seddon Park in Hamilton while the second Test bowls off December 11 at the historic Basin Reserve in Wellington.