Former India opener and expert commentator and analyst Aakash Chopra has expressed concern over the ECB’s decision to allow a softer bio-bubble for the summer which includes the marquee India-England five-Test series. The issue and debate around strict quarantine and bio-bubbles and the toll it takes on the mental health of players has been going on since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year and no country has been able to come up with an ideal balance so far.
The ECB decided to ease restrictions and have decided to go with a softer bio-bubble for the upcoming India-England Test series which gets underway from the 4th of August. Player fatigue and mental and emotional stress issues in strict quarantine are the major reasons behind the decision. However, Chopra feels that such a move could backfire big-time as a softer quarantine would make the players and support staff vulnerable and possibly exposed to the Covid-19 virus.
“They are saying it will be a softer bubble, which means it is not that strict and if it is not strict, the virus does not take a long time to enter. I am now slightly concerned about what is going to happen," remarked Chopra.
The England team was forced to play with a ‘C’ team against Pakistan as some of their players and support staff tested positive for the virus just prior to the start of the ODI series. Rishabh Pant along with training assistant Dayanand Garani tested positive for the virus and were isolated from India’s contingent in Durham. Pant is believed to have contracted the virus during his visit to the stadium for a Euro 2020 encounter.
Chopra added that he understood the plight of the players and the toll a strict and long bio-bubble takes on their mental health but stated that relaxing the norms could prove to be a disaster.
“It seems the right thing to hear that there are lengthy bio-bubbles, obviously, there is fatigue and it takes a toll but what does it mean for the series? You saw just now that you had cases in the series against Pakistan and you fielded a new team, which also won but God forbid something like this happens in the Test matches," said Chopra,
Chopra further stated that a player, under a not-so-stringent quarantine could potentially become a super spreader and that is not a risk worth taking.
“You have opened the entire country, you could be the super spreader, you are the one who is actually going to be spreading it to the world. You are allowing the full crowd to the matches, it’s not behind closed doors anymore," added Chopra.