‘Bubble’ brings mental challenges – Mansingh
Sports physician Dr Akshai Mansingh says that the ‘bubble style’ execution of the 2020 Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has attracted interest from other international organisers, but warned that measures must be taken to ensure the players’ mental health, as the sport continues to operate in similar environments.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced strict health protocols and the creation of a biosecure environment for the tournament in Trinidad. As part of the stringent measures, overseas players were tested before and upon arrival in Trinidad, while teams and personnel were accommodated at one location and were only allowed to leave for matches and training sessions.
Mansingh, who served as chief medical officer of the CPL, says that the framework has resulted in other major cricketing countries inquiring how they could incorporate such practices into their own competitions, as the sport continues to operate in the midst of the pandemic.
“Many international cricket boards have reached out to us to use it as a template and you’ll see more and more domestic leagues and some international leagues come out, which are going to be patterned off this,” Mansingh told The Sunday Gleaner. “I can think of three international boards that have already spoken to us because they want to use the template to have their own domestic cricket.”
The Raise the Bat Test series between the West Indies and hosts England, held in July, was the first cricket series to return and the first to use bubble environments since the spread of COVID-19 halted sports across the globe. Since then, other tours have operated with similar measures to safeguard players and staff.
Former West Indies cricketer Nehemiah Perry and cricket analyst Freddie Wilde have praised the organisation of the tournament under the circumstances.
The latter took to Twitter after the CPL final on September 10, stating that the “CPL, more so than England’s season, is the template for biosecure cricket.”
However, Mansingh says that they will have to look at how it affects the players’ mental health, as constantly playing in bubble environments has made the experience taxing, despite safeguarding them.
“Everybody who are used to playing outside on the field and maintaining their freedom are now being told when to play and how long they can play, and it is having a serious mental effect on the players and the people within the bubble,” Mansingh said. “The Caribbean should be very happy and proud that we were able to pull it off [but] we have to look at the future and that it has a serious mental toll.”
Mansingh says that while it will be a massive financial commitment to adopt similar measures to host tours and competitions in the Caribbean, he says that they are pleased to have developed expertise that will be referenced for future international events.