Former England captain Kevin Pietersen on Tuesday called for abolishing strict bio-bubbles for players and support staff in international cricket, saying that the set-up meant to contain COVID-19 is “ruining the best job in the world”.
Pietersen’s suggestion is radical one compared to the balanced approach of workload management advocated by the likes of India Test captain Virat Kohli and former head coach Ravi Shastri who have also warned that bubble fatigue among players will hurt the game.
“Strict bio-bubbles for players & coaching staff needs to be abolished for good ASAP!” Pietersen tweeted.
“They’re ruining what’s meant to be the best job in the world now. Players & staff are DONE with them!”
Prior to the ongoing Ashes in Australia, there were reports that top English players could boycott the high-profile five-match series as they don’t want to be confined to their hotel rooms for close to four months due to strict quarantine rules Down Under.
The matter was, however, resolved after talks between players’ representatives, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Cricket Australia and the Australian government.
England fielded all the top players though they have already lost the Ashes after humiliating losses in the first three matches.
Kohli has been among the most vocal in expressing concern about the challenges players face during long stints inside bio bubbles.
He has advocated balanced workload management of the players so that they are not drained out physically and mentally.
“I understand we’ve lost some time without cricket (during the pandemic) but in trying to cover that up, if you lose players then world cricket is not going to be better off.
So there has to be a balance in the future,” he had said just before the T20 World Cup last year.
Shastri, who relinquished the India head coach’s job after the T20 World Cup, had said that “sooner or later the bubble will burst, so you have to be careful.”
“There are lots of players in this team who are all-format players. In the last 24 months, they have been home for 25 days.
Even if your name is Bradman and you are in a bubble, your average will come down because you are human,” Shastri had said.
“It is not something you put petrol in the backside and expect the guy to move on.”
On the other hand, with COVID-19 cases rising exponentially around the world due to the emergence of the Omicron variant, it is a tricky situation for the cricket administrators.
They have to keep players safe without confining them to bio-bubbles with strict protocols.
They also have to abide by the various state and central government protocols which are different in every country.
For instance, the ECB relaxed the strict COVID-19 protocols for India’s Test tour of England last year by taking into account that the bio-bubble has taken a toll mentally on players.
But members of the Indian contingent tested positive for the virus and the fifth Test had to be postponed because of that.