Bubble life the ‘new norm’ for Australia’s international cricketers

Australian assistant coach Andrew McDonald believes bubble life has become the “new norm” for professional athletes, who are starting to adjust to the restricted lifestyle.

McDonald has been several in biosecurity bubbles since he flew to Europe for Australia’s short-format series against England in August.

The 39-year-old served as head coach for Steve Smith’s Rajasthan Royals in the postponed Indian Premier League before returning home in time for the three-match ODI series against India.

Although some members of the Australian squad have been stuck in hotels for several months, McDonald believes the players are in a “really good space” mentally ahead of the 2020/21 summer of cricket.

“The longer that we exist in these bubbles, we get better at understanding them,” McDonald told reporters on Sunday afternoon.

“The bubble life in the IPL was reasonably good for most teams. We had some green space, we had some outdoor spaces. You’re just limited clearly in you can’t leave the hotel.

“It’s really becoming the new norm, so I think everyone is just embracing it. They know what they’re in for.”

The Australian ODI and T20 squad have been allowed to train at Blacktown International Sports Park during their mandatory two-week quarantine.

As coronavirus restrictions are slowly lifted across the states, glimpses of normality will creep back into daily life for the athletes.

Players will hopefully not have to endure the strict biosecurity rules implemented in England and the United Arab Emirates while competing against the Indians this summer.

“I don’t think we’re going to get to the stage where the restrictions can get any worse than what we experience during the IPL, so anything that’s added onto that is a bonus,” McDonald said.

“Cricket Australia are doing everything possible to make it an environment that we can get ready to perform in.”

Andrew McDonald, assistant coach of Australia.Source:AAP

Steve Smith’s recent admission there was “no chance” he would feature in this summer’s Big Bash League tournament seems justified when considering the Australian batsman’s strenuous workload.

After travelling to England for a short-format series in August, Smith immediately found himself in another biosecurity bubble for the six-week IPL tournament.

Following his return to Australian shores, the 31-year-old commenced preparation for a blockbuster series against India, which features three T20s, three ODIs and four Test matches.

When the fourth Test match ends on January 19th, Smith will have spent five consecutive months in biosecurity bubbles, where even walking down the road to get a coffee has for the most part been prohibited.

His desire for a well-deserved break during the BBL’s closing phases is therefore understandable.

When asked if he thought other international stars would pull out of upcoming tours, McDonald was adamant players would receive the support needed to survive bubble life.

“That will be an ongoing daily discussion,” McDonald said. “There’s a lot of support around the team to be able to continue to monitor (mental wellbeing) and look out for each other through it all.

“But I think that’ll be no different to beforehand, when you were on the road for long periods of time as well. It’s just changed slightly in terms of what we’re able to do.

“People are getting their heads around it.”

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