On their tour to Sri Lanka, England will take a full-time counselor with them, with captain Joe Root making it clear that if the burden of being blistered in a pandemic becomes too much, players will withdraw at any time. On Saturday, the moving squad will take a chartered flight and head straight into Hambantota for a two-week quarantine and a couple of training days to get in the mood for two tests in January in Galle.
The last two overseas trips to England ended in early cancellation: the initial visit to Sri Lanka was postponed in March as the coronavirus swept the globe, and the white-ball series in South Africa last month was cut short after a handful of positive cases sent panic through the community at the team hotel. January 2 – Outbound14. January – 1st test (bile)January 22 – 2nd test (bile)There is also the awareness that the time players had to spend locked up in so-called biosecure conditions was very stressful, as well as questions about the virus, and several players talked about the challenges: Dr. James Bickley, consulting clinical psychologist for Shifting Minds organisation. And Root made it clear that if they start struggling, the door is open for everybody to get out. “There will be a little bit of extra support for players by having a psychologist on site at all times and making sure there’s someone to talk to,” he said. Everyone understands that if it gets to be too much, they have the right to drop out, and it’s an important thing to note. It’s important for them to be able to tell if they feel they are unable to serve their country physically or mentally. You have a duty as a player to speak your mind not only to the team, but also to the other players. A huge part of my job as captain is to speak your mind not only to the team, but also to the other players. Who knows what advantages of success that could offer! #PerformingWell- James Bickley (@ChangingMindsJB) July 24, 2020Root indicated that there is now some expectation that players will go viral without questioning the series automatically: “Wherever we’re going to be, we’re going to come into contact with it in some form,” he said, noting the current prevalence. “If you look around the rest of the world, other teams, when they’ve traveled, have had to deal with cases on tour, and that could be the case with us. Joe Root turned 30 just before the new year (Rory Dollard/PA) “South Africa was a special circumstance, and it will be different again. We are mindful of what we get into – fingers crossed that all goes well and we take care of each other and defend ourselves as best we can so that we can enjoy some tough test matches. On Wednesday, Root celebrated his 30th birthday, officially bringing the boyish skipper one step closer to “veteran status” and he was pleased that it was a quiet day before setting off on what could be almost three full months in the subcontinent if he also goes on India’s full tour. “I’m waiting for my hair to fall out, but it feels nice,” he said of entering his fourth decade.