England’s Test captain Joe Root has said that the England cricketers have the option of opting out from the upcoming tours of Sri Lanka and India, and return back home on the grounds of mental health being affected by the strict bio-secure protocols.
England would compete in a 2-match Test series against Sri Lanka, starting January 14 at the Galle International Cricket Stadium in Galle. Post the Sri Lanka tour, the England cricket team would be involved on a long tour of India that will kick off from February 5 comprising 4 Tests, 5 T20Is and 3 ODIs with the venues MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, and Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune.
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For extra measures, the team has roped in a psychologist for the first time to help players in any kind of trouble pertaining to mental health. Root further stated that as a captain, he wants the players to ensure that the players are in a comfortable environment that helps them perform to their potential on-field.
“There is going to be a little bit of extra support for the players in terms of a psychologist on the ground at all times making sure there is someone to speak to. And as captain, a big part of my role is to make sure people are comfortable in the environment, in a position to be at the top of their game, and play Test cricket to the best of their ability,” said Joe Root in the pre-tour press conference.
Root clearly pointed out that players can decide to back out of the tour at any stage if they aren’t feeling well, be it physically or mentally.
“Everyone is very aware that if at any stage it becomes too much they are entitled to get out and that is an important thing to remember. It is important they can say if they don’t feel they are in the right place physically or mentally to go out and represent their country. As players, you have a responsibility to speak up, not just use the staff but the other guys around as well,” added the 30-year-old.
All 23 of England’s squad members, which includes reserve players, have cleared their COVID-19 tests. They will observe a quarantine period in Hambantota before flying off to Galle for two Tests that are to be played behind closed doors. This Test series was originally scheduled to take place in March 2020 but was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The 23-man English unit comprising the reserve players have cleared their COVID-19 tests. The team will undergo a quarantine period in Hambantota before they fly off to Galle for the two Tests that will take place in empty stadiums. If not for the global pandemic, England was originally scheduled to travel to Sri Lanka in the month of March back in 2020.
England had clean-swept Sri Lanka by 3-0 in the 3-match Test series on their previous tour to the subcontinent in 2018, while they last won a Test series in India back in 2012, as they beat the hosts by 2-1 in the 4-Test series. Root had made his Test debut in the final match of the series at Nagpur, scoring 73 (229) and 20* in the drawn contest.
However, England lost the Tests on the tour of India in 2016-17, suffering a 4-0 defeat in the 5-match series under the then captain, Alastair Cook.
Here’s England’s squad for the Test series against Sri Lanka:
Joe Root (captain), Jonny Bairstow (wicket-keeper), Moeen Ali, Dom Bess, James Anderson, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Dom Sibley, Jack Leach, Dan Lawrence, Ben Foakes (wicket-keeper), Sam Curran, Zak Crawley, Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper), Stuart Broad, Olly Stone.
Amar Virdi, Ollie Robinson, Matthew Parkinson, Craig Overton, Saqib Mahmood, Mason Crane, James Bracey (wicket-keeper).