The Covid-19 pandemic has forced cricketers to remain confined in bio-secure bubbles before coming out to play the game. This is why the mental wellbeing of the athletes is something that will get a lot more attention, said Andy Flower who is now the head coach of St. Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
According to Flower the experience of the bio-secure bubble for the CPL 2020 is completely different.
“The first week we were mostly in our rooms and it was from the last week that we started practising. But what it has done is given people a bit of downtime,” the former Zimbabwe cricketer said in a virtual press conference.
“Players are used to good vibrant crowds and even more so in the Caribbean. So without them, it will be quite weird. But my experience of it is as soon as the players deliver the first ball they get into the competitive aspect of the sport and we should expect high-quality cricket,” added Flower, who is also Kings XI Punjab’s assistant coach.
To mitigate the risk of infections, players’ movements will be heavily restricted during competition. Flower knows this could take a toll on their mental wellbeing.
“It is a very important topic. My experiences on the international scene and knowing the pressures of travelling for long periods and being away from families for a long time these are things about which the cricket community has become conscious off,” Flower remarked.
“Earlier, there was a tendency for the leadership to say- just toughen up and get on with it. But now everyone is better educated on this topic which is a really healthy thing for our global cricket community. We are more aware of the pressure that bears down on players,” the former Zimbabwean captain observed.
“Some of the additional pressures of being isolated at this point from normal social communication and we are quite aware of this. Simple things like checking in with people and general awareness and a collective effort can keep players healthy and safe,” he added.
Zouks, who will play seven-day games in the CPL, will be led by the charismatic Daren Sammy. If it remains dry during day matches then will Sammy’s men dominate with their spin-laden bowling attack?
“With the tournament spread across 33 days, spin will play a big role. So we have quality spinners like Nabi, Cornwall, Hodge, and Zahir Khan in our squad who can be matchwinners for us. Also for our batters, it will be important how they play spin,” said Sammy.
The St Lucia franchise that was founded in 2013 virtually unveiled its new official jersey on Tuesday. The team is sponsored by INDIBET (Title sponsor) along with Orbit Exchange and cricketnmore.com as associate sponsors.
Team players include Mohammad Nabi, Andre Fletcher, Kesrick Williams, Rahkeem Cornwall, Chemar Holder, Javelle Glen, Mark Deyal, Leniko Boucher, Kavem Hodge, Obed McCoy, Kimani Melius, Saad Bin Zafar, Scott Kuggelein, Roston Chase, Najibullah Zadran and Zahir Khan.