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Sports News

Australia skipper Finch fears for mental health of players in 'bio-bubbles'

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The mental health of cricketers confined to biosecure bubbles during COVID-19 will be tested over the next two years, and Australia’s staff are working hard to prepare players for the challenges, limited overs captain Aaron Finch said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - South Africa v Australia - Third T20 - Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town, South Africa - February 26, 2020 Australia's Aaron Finch in action REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File photo

Finch will lead a 21-man squad to England for a T20 international series starting Sept. 4 in Southampton, followed by a one-day series at another bio-secure venue in Manchester.

Some of Finch’s squad are also expected to travel to United Arab Emirates for the Indian Premier League before returning to Australia to prepare for India’s tour during the home summer.

To mitigate the risk of infections, players’ movements will be heavily restricted during competition, which could take a toll on their mental wellbeing, said Finch.

“I definitely feel it’s going to be a real issue and a real factor over the next couple of years, in particular,” Finch told reporters in a video call.

“It’s going to be something to monitor heavily. Because it could be a few months that guys are in these bio-bubbles and being stuck in a hotel room by yourself for a couple of weeks on end - or four-five months ... that could be really tough.”

Melbourne-based Finch, along with about five million other people in Australia’s second city, has been locked down for all but a few weeks since March as authorities battle to control COVID-19 outbreaks.

Finch said the Australian team’s sports psychologist Michael Lloyd had tailored plans for players and was talking to each about recognising “when things might be a little bit off”.

The 33-year-old opener added that players were on notice about adhering to biosecurity protocols, a month after England paceman Jofra Archer was sanctioned for a breach during the test series against West Indies.

“We’ve been really strong with the guys in the last couple of weeks .... Because at the end of the day, if that falls over then we’re all out of jobs.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Tom Hogue

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