Exclusive: Selectors need to be sensitive to cricketers’ needs in bio-bubbles, says John Gloster

The sport of cricket has undergone a massive change just like the rest of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian cricket team will begin a four-Test series against England in Chennai from Friday (February 5), having spent majority of the last six months in bio-bubbles starting from Indian Premier League (IPL) in UAE from September. 

The visitors, England, have also spent a massive amount of time – both home and away – in bio-bubbles starting from July last year with their home series against West Indies. No wonder that Joe Root’s side have decided to rest the likes of Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow in a crucial series against England, even with a place in World Test Championships final on the line. 

Former Team India physio John Gloster, now associated with IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals and T10 League team Delhi Bulls, gives a unique perspective of what it feels for players to stay inside bio-bubbles be it for Tests, ODI, T20s or even T10s. In an exclusive interview with Zee News English, Gloster says that critics have no right to question cricketers who ask for breaks from these bio-bubbles. 

“Players have right to step out of bio-bubbles whenever they see it fit. People and more specifically selectors should be much more sensitive to the need to the cricketers and it should not be held against them for future selections. Every player has the right to step away because you have to consider that a lot of them have lost family members or close friends which is a massive loss to deal with,” Gloster told Zee News English from Abu Dhabi. 

Gloster is currently in Abu Dhabi with the Delhi Bulls team for the last month helping out the team in the on-going Abu Dhabi T10 League. Gloster, who worked with the Indian national cricket team between 2005 and 2008, believes the role of the physio has also evolved in the post COVID-19 pandemic era. 

“The physio of any team is an integral part of the medical team which handles the bio-bubbles as well as the COVID-19 Standard Operating Protocols (SOP). Apart from the physical side of the players’ well-being, they now need to have a good understanding of mental health as well. We need to deliver essential things to a cricketer apart from training equipment and these might be different for every player like a PlayStation for one, table tennis for another and F1 simulation games for the other. 

“The players who are struggling mentally in these bio-bubbles often end up manifesting into physical injuries. We have intimate understanding of the match pressure that players are under but there is no escape mechanism for them in these bio-bubbles if we don’t provide them adequate support,” Gloster said, probably referring to a major chunk of injuries to Indian cricketers on their tour to Australia. 

What goes into the bio-bubble? 

Apart from recreation activities, the physios need to sensitive to the diet of the cricketers as well in these bio-bubbles. “There is a lot of conversations with the players trying to understand what all facilities they need inside their room and their hotels. Food is one aspect of it because you can easily lose an Asian player if they are not provided the right choice of food,” the Delhi Bulls physio said. 

Gloster’s methods have also evolved over time since he has moved on to T20 cricket and now to T10 format as well. “The speed of the game has changed and accelerated even more which means there are more high impact and high intensity injuries. We have more lower-limb and quadriceps injuries as well because that’s the demand of T10 league,” the Australian physiotherapist said. 

Fitness is non-negotiable 

The T10 League features a lot of players like Chris Gayle or Dwayne Bravo, the Delhi Bulls skipper, who are towards the end of their cricketing career which requires different sort of handling but fitness is ‘non-negotiable’ according to Gloster. 

“It is true that some cricketers are on the back-end of their careers but fitness is non-negotiable because you get found out easily in this format. There is no requirement for Yo-Yo test but high-speed running efforts are more important and setting training markers are important,” he added. 

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Sagar Biswas

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