“To survive in the bio-bubble, all you need is a good coffee machine, good coffee beans and a good mixer.”
David Warner said this tongue firmly in cheek, but gave an indication nevertheless about life in a cocoon for a seemingly interminable period.
After the lockdown, the Australian opener and his compatriots stayed in a bubble in their country before embarking on the white-ball tour to England, where they were quarantined before being allowed to take the field under stringent restrictions. From there, Warner has jetted straight to the United Arab Emirates for the Indian Premier League to be played under similar strict protocols.
Covid-19 has grounded high-flying cricketers, who now mostly remain confined to their rooms when not on the ground. Social interaction is limited to teammates without going into each other’s rooms.
“Of course, the pandemic is something we can’t control. All we can do is worry about our cricket and stick by the guidelines,” the Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper said in a media interaction from Dubai. “You need to remember why you’re there in the first place.”
But Warner is under no illusions about the unique challenges posed by the present situation, especially for those who will be experiencing it for the first time. As captain of his franchise, he knows his role is not limited to what he does on the field.
“It’s important to look out for each other and keep interacting. We have to make it as fun for the players as possible and not make the environment too serious. One needs to bond well with your teammates. I know it’s a very challenging environment. I have a wife and three girls back home. It’s difficult to be away from your family for such a long time. It’s important to look after the mental health and well-being of every player. One also needs to be smart and take time out when the situation gets too challenging,” the left-hander gave a peek into his leadership priorities in the coming weeks.
The IPL is a high-intensity tournament and the Sunrisers have a squad of 25 players. Hence, more than half of them will be sitting out every game. Staying in the bubble and not playing could get doubly difficult for the fringe players.
“Not everyone can play every game. There needs to be clarity in the thinking of the whole group.”
The grind has begun 💪🏻
— SunRisers Hyderabad (@SunRisers) September 18, 2020
The tournament had to be moved out of India due to the very high number of Covid-19 cases in the country, and though Australia also was not untouched by the pandemic, the situation there was not as serious. Warner hoped that the players could enjoy some of the little joys they managed Down Under.
“We were able to play golf in Australia as it’s a socially-distanced sport in itself. In fact, we could drive our cars right to the greens. Hopefully, we can get the opportunity to play some golf here as well.”
Another unusual situation the players will encounter in this IPL is the absence of crowds in the stands, at least for the most part of the tournament. But Warner didn’t seem to make much of it.
“Having no crowds will be different, but once you get into the tournament, I don’t think the players will take much notice of it.”
Warner’s Sunrisers open their campaign against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in Dubai on Monday, followed by a game against Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi next Saturday.
In many ways, the IPL will serve as a precursor to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to be contested in Australia at the end of the year and Warner, who missed out the last time the Indian team was there due to suspension, is already looking forward to it.
“I am excited already. Hopefully, we can have some crowds then. Some other sports in Australia have started with 25 per cent capacity,” he added.
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