Saturday, 23 October 2021

Boxing, mental health coach for Australia’s ‘bubble’ cricketers


SYDNEY: Australia have appointed a mental health manager and introduced boxing sessions to help players cope with life in anti-coronavirus ‘bubbles’, with some facing the prospect of months in controlled environments as international cricket resumes.

The Australians, minus those at the Indian Premier League, are now in 14 days’ isolation at a hotel adjoining Adelaide Oval after five weeks in a bio-secure environment in England, where they pulled off a dramatic one-day series win over the world champions.

Some, like coach Justin Langer, face a further fortnight in quarantine when they cross state borders and return to their home bases, with more of the same awaiting players throughout the Australian cricketing summer.

With players spending extended periods in bubbles, away from their families, Langer is acutely aware that managing mental health is as important as his players’ physical wellbeing as they prepare to take on India in a Test series.

“We’ve got to always recognise that when we talk about our sports people, whether it’s cricketers or football players or rugby players, they are also human beings and we must respect that,” he said in a Zoom call.

“There are certainly challenges, but we are aware of that. We are keeping an eye on them to make sure they are all staying physically and mentally healthy.”
When Cricket Australia explained to the players what the summer schedule might look like, “the blood drained out of some of their faces”, Langer added.
Depending on playing commitments, Cricket Australia has forecast some could experience up to 150 days in the controlled environments required by coronavirus protocols.

“It’s a long time away from our families and home. But we know the sacrifices we have to take to ensure cricket stays up and running and we keep entertaining people,” he said.

To help them cope, Cricket Australia has appointed a new mental health manager and Langer has introduced boxing.

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