CHENNAI: After much delay, Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday announced the schedule for India's upcoming tour. The BCCI is yet to approve it formally. Though it remains only a formality, it is understood that the CA has once again turned down BCCI's request to allow players' families on tour. India's contingent will land in Sydney and undergo a 14-day quarantine period when they will be allowed to practice after a week.
The players' request to take families along has been met with silence so far, but sources in the BCCI revealed that chances are very remote. There are indications that the BCCI will check with the players if they are interested to tour Australia under these extraordinary circumstances. But there is genuine fear among players that in case they pull out, they may not be considered for selection in the future.
With life in a bio-secure bubble proving to be difficult already, the team management has placed a request to take a sports psychologist and a yoga trainer to Australia, which the BCCI is likely to approve. There are also talks of taking an extended number of support staff, but it is not clear what roles the BCCI is looking at.
With regards the psychologist, it is understood that the support staff have made the request after several players currently in the bio-bubble expressed their grievances to the BCCI. Though some of them have taken their family to the UAE, it is understood that living in a bubble for more than two months is proving to be difficult for many because of the restrictions in place. With the scenario set to be the same in Australia, the support staff consider it important to have a psychologist on board.
“Yes, it (psychologist on tour) certainly helps,” said Divya Jain, Head of Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, New Delhi. “If an organisation decides to take a psychologist and says it's important, that's sending the right message. Players can approach him/her and speak about what he is feeling without the fear of wondering whether he will be perceived as weak and so on. One in five go through some form of mental health problems and statistics are the same for athletes. Living in a bubble can be challenging. You can feel isolated at times, there can be a certain amount of distress associated with it,” she said.
Meanwhile, with regards to the schedule, the tour will commence with the first of three ODIs on November 27 followed by three T20Is. The Indian team will then take part in an intra-squad day/night practice match in Adelaide. There are also talks of scheduling another practice match parallelly with the T20s as India are taking an extended squad, but it has not been finalised yet. The first Test will begin in Adelaide (D/N) on December 17, followed by matches in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.