Ahead of Sri Lanka tour, England captain Joe Root has made it clear that the players are free to opt-out of the Test tour this month if any of them are not in the right place mentally to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic which brings a lot of challenges together.
Being away from family and staying in the strict bio-secure environment for a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the players’ mental health and left many of them exhausted.
In the COVID-19 era, sportspersons are forced to live in a bio-secure bubble, thanks to the global Coronavirus outbreak, and being isolated for long isn’t certainly healthy for the players and keeping that in mind, Root said English players are free to convey their thoughts regarding the same and take a break.
England's squad is set to leave for Sri Lanka on Saturday and will be in a ten-day bubble in Hambantota before playing two Tests starting January 14 followed by the final on January 22. The tourists will also take a psychologist James Bickley to the tour for the first time to help the players at bio-bubble.
Root said at his pre-tour press conference: “There's going to be a little bit of extra support for the players in terms of a psychologist on the ground at all times making sure there's someone to speak to.”
The captain further added, “Everyone is very aware that if at any stage it becomes too much they are entitled to get out and that's an important thing to remember. It's important they can say if they don't feel they're in the right space physically or mentally to go out and represent their country.”
The 30-year-old also urged his English team-mates to not hide away if they are feeling blue due to the COVID-19 protocols while joking he is “waiting for his hair to fall out”
Root signed off by saying, “As players, you have a responsibility to speak up, not just use the staff but the other guys around you as well. As captain that's a big part of my role to make sure people are comfortable in the environment, in a position to be at the top of their game and play Tests to the best of their ability. It's a huge part of the role anyway but it's certainly heightened more in times like these.”
(With AFP Inputs)