The Ireland squad that has shifted from Florida to Jamaica is not only dealing with the challenges of a reduced squad – they have left the in-form Paul Stirling and Shane Getkate behind – but also with the mental troubles of dealing with Covid-19, which canceled their recent ODI series against USA after a string of positive cases. Captain Andy Balbirnie said the team’s morale is now far better than it was in Florida, but opened up on the stressful time the squad went through as positive cases spread in their campaign. The touring Ireland side now is focued on the three ODIs and a lone T20I in Jamaica, starting on Saturday.
Many Ireland players had tested positive before the T20Is against USA last month and once the ODIs were canceled, Stirling and Getkate tested positive as well. They are expected to rejoin the squad in Jamaica on Sunday. Even though a lot of players around the world are now vaccinated and squads live in bio-bubbles to play international cricket, Balbirnie said the stress of going through repeated tests was draining and affects players’ mental health.
“The morale is pretty good, it’s better than Florida,” Balbirnie told reporters during a virtual press conference a day before the first ODI. “It was very difficult, some of us had to leave our family members in Florida and come here for this series. I was one of them. But as soon as we got into training and international series mode, your focus comes back. You can’t dwell too much on what’s happened. If you do that you’re going to some pretty dark places. We’re lucky we get these opportunities to bounce back on a regular basis.”
“Playing with Covid is more challenging off the pitch than on the pitch because you’re worrying about tests, then told to stay in the room till the tests come back and you’re told it’s going to be delayed and you’re literally sitting on the edge of your seat in your room wondering if you have it. At the same time we’ve got a job to do once we cross the white line, no matter what’s going on.”
“It’s hugely challenging. It has a massive effect on your mental health. Like getting a PCR test and sitting in your room for 24 hours, not knowing if you’re going to miss the whole series and to spend 14 days in a room with no balcony, it’s not healthy. I don’t really think you can continue [like that], there need to be ways to look after the players’ welfare or they’ll decide not to go on tour and that’ll be completely understandable. You have to look after them first and foremost as an individual before a cricketer.”
Avishkar Govardhane is a Sports Editor and enthusiast, working here at Clout News covering the latest Cricket News.