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18 Aug 2020 | 07:37 AM
authorAFP
Mental health focus as Aussie cricketers head into virus bubble
In order to play their first internationals in almost six months, the Australians have agreed to strict biosecurity plans which include playing at venues with on-site accommodation

Cricket Australia will closely monitor the mental health of players living inside a bio-secure bubble during the upcoming limited-overs tour of England, captain Aaron Finch said.

The team departs Sunday for a tour originally scheduled to take place in July but postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In order to play their first internationals in almost six months, the Australians have agreed to strict biosecurity plans which include playing at venues with on-site accommodation.

The arrangements raise the prospect of long periods isolated in hotel rooms, and Finch said Cricket Australia wanted to ensure the players' mental wellbeing.

"That's going to be something that's going to be a real issue, it's going to be something to monitor heavily," he told reporters in an online conference.

"I know from an Australian point of view that there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make sure there's checkpoints in place to ensure we understand and recognise when things might be a little bit off."

Finch said a sports psychologist was travelling with the team and had spoken to all players to help them develop individual plans to cope.

With some players travelling straight from England to the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates after the tour, Finch said cricketers had to adapt to the bio-bubble environment.

"It could be a few months that you're in these bio-bubbles and being stuck in these hotel rooms for weeks or months on end can be really tough," he said.

Finch urged all players to accept the inconvenience of bio-bubbles and quarantine to help keep international cricket operating through the pandemic.

"We're in a position to continue the global game -- there should be no more motivation than that," he said. "At the end of the day, if that falls over then we're all out of jobs. 

"There's been so much work gone in from thousands of people to give us the opportunity to play international cricket again."

Finch said he would support other compromises, such as moving the Boxing Day Test against India from Melbourne to another venue as his hometown struggles to contain a COVID-19 outbreak.

"Keeping the game as healthy as it can be is the utmost responsibility of the players and everyone else," he said.

"So if that (Boxing Day Test) had to change for a year, I don't think it's going to be a huge issue."

The Australians will play four practice matches in Derby before facing England in three T20s and three one-day internationals in Southampton and Manchester.

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