Concerns about mental strain as Proteas prepare to enter bio bubble for the first time

South Africa’s men’s cricket team will enter an environment very different from anything many of the players would have encountered when they go into the ‘bio bubble’ next week for the limited overs series’ against England.

For those not involved in the Indian Premier League, the novelty factor might energise them for the few weeks that the 50-over world champions are in the country, but it is what happens weeks and months down the line, as the Proteas catch up on their schedule, that is concerning. “This is unchartered territory,” the SA Cricketers Association, CEO Andrew Breetzke said on Monday.

The first of three T20 Internationals between South Africa and England takes place at Newlands on November 27, starting a very busy program for the men’s national team, that will include three ODIs against England, a pair of Tests over the festive season against Sri Lanka, a tour to Pakistan, a home series against Australia and a limited overs series against Pakistan next April, in South Africa.

That’s a lot of tough cricket in a short space of time, all in a bio secure environment that will put firm restrictions on players movements and who they can interact with.

The psychological effects are something no one can predict. “It’s going to be a massive challenge,”said sports psychologist, Henning Gericke, who worked with the Proteas at the 2011 World Cup. “Some players will cope better than others, but it’s going to ask a lot of the management; they will need to be creative about how they get families involved through modern technology and ensure that there is a good balance throughout the day so that is not just cricket, cricket, cricket.”

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