Business Standard

How bio-bubble has added a new dimension to the lives of cricketers

The Indian Premier League's (IPL) 2022 edition is the third edition of the cash-rich T20 league that is being held in a bio-secure environment because of the Covid-19 pandemic

IPL dugout

IPL 2021. Photo: Sportzpics for IPL

IANS Mumbai
The Covid-19 pandemic has added many new words to the cricket lexicon.
While the players and fans earlier had to deal with googlies, off-cutters, leg-breaks, scoops, chapati shot, Nataraja shot and MS Dhoni-trademark helicopter shot, their vocabulary nowadays also includes new words like rapid antigen test, RT-PCR, bio-secure bubble, bubble breach, and bubble fatigue.
Indeed, bubble-life has become a constant for the players, giving rise to its unique problems with the players finding restrictions on going out of the hotel, meeting family and friends (from outside the bubble) and entertaining guests as a big challenge.
Being confined to a limited area inside the hotels and stadia has been a stress that is difficult to handle and though the players have got used to spending time in bio-bubbles in the last couple of years, it is still a matter of concern and many players have decided to avoid too much of this stress.
The Indian Premier League's (IPL) 2022 edition is the third edition of the cash-rich T20 league that is being held in a bio-secure environment because of the Covid-19 pandemic. With there being the need for bio-bubbles for 10 teams besides match officials, staff and other stakeholders, BCCI has arranged for two teams to stay in one five-star hotel, where the franchises have made their arrangements for players' family members.
In all, 70 matches will be played between March 26 and May 29 at four venues -- Wankhede Stadium, Brabourne Stadium, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai and Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium in Pune.
This means that including pre-bubble isolation, preparatory camps and the proper tournament, the players will be cooped-up in a bio-secure environment for more than two months. They will not be allowed to leave the hotel except for matches and practice sessions and will not to be allowed to meet people outside during the entire duration of the bubble.
Though the players are allowed to have their families with them, managing so many people in a bubble has its own problems with bubble fatigue a major concern for both the franchises and the IPL organisers.
The BCCI wants to avoid a 2021 like situation, when it was forced to suspend the league being played in India midway because of rising Covid-19 cases in the teams and conclude it six months later in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Thus, the IPL governing council has introduced hefty fines (Rs 1 crore and above) for any breach of the bio-bubble with subsequent breaches even leading to the franchise being docked points.
Penalties will be imposed even if family members of the players breach the bio-bubble. Players could be sent into isolation for various periods depending on the breach, and thus could miss playing matches too.
With the stakes so high for both the players and franchises, special arrangements have been made to make the stay in the bio-bubble comfortable, entertaining and engaging besides being safe, so that the players, their families and others leave for their respective homes at the end of IPL-15 as energised and healthy as they were at the time of joining the bubble.
So, besides making arrangements for a comfortable stay at the hotel, which are of 5-star quality anyway, with the players and families feeling no need to leave the bubble, the franchises have also made arrangements for keeping the families and kids entertained and involved in activities during their stay in the bubble, while the players themselves would be either playing matches or preparing for them.
Unlike in the past when the IPL was held in India and involved inter-city travel, this time there is minimum travel involved as the teams will be moving in and around Mumbai -- to Wankhede, Brabourne and DY Patel Stadium in Navi Mumbai. Practice facilities have been arranged at the MCA's facilities at the Bandra Kurla Complex and the Dadoji Konddev Stadium in nearby Thane. The only 'long journey' involved is to Pune, which will involve travel of around 270-odd kilometres.
And as players' families are also part of the IPL bandwagon, all the bio-bubbles have a kids zone and facilities to play sports like table tennis, cards, and also entertainment facilities at the hotels.
Besides, the players having their own means of entertainment, the bio-bubbles also include a team room where the players can participate in team bonding activities and group entertainment sessions.
As Mumbai is their base, the Mumbai Indians have set up an outdoor bio-secure recreational facility called "MI ARENA" at the Jio World Garden in Bandra Kurla Complex for the players and their families, the coaching staff and the support staff. The facility, exclusively for the team, will encourage team bonding, allow the players to relax and have a balanced life.
The 13,000 square metre MI Arena will form a part of the secure bio bubble for MI, and it has been customised to allow both team and individual areas. It houses a futsal ground, box cricket, pickleball court, foot volleyball, MI Battleground, golf driving range, mini-golf, a kids zone, and MI Cafe.
The hotel at which Mumbai Indians are staying has a well-equipped gym, massage facilities, lounge, gaming console, arcade games, indoor basketball, table tennis, pool table and even a small stage where the players can enjoy karaoke music.
The Rajasthan Royals have created a kids' room with toys in their bio-bubble for the children of the players and support staff. They have also signed up a deal with a company that provides entertainment to kids through various cartoon characters.
They have signed up with Red Bull to provide racing games for the players and their families. Their bio-bubble facility also has an outdoor space for walking and jogging.
All franchises have also made arrangements to celebrate special occasions for all those who are part of the bio-bubble. Arrangements have been made to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries so that the players and their near and dear ones don't miss out on such occasions.
The Maharashtra government on its part has made arrangements for dedicated traffic lanes for the travel of the players from their hotels to the venues and practice facilities.
The government has also arranged for special medical facilities in case of an emergency and will be monitoring the implementation of the protocols.
The government has approved allowing spectators up to 25 per cent capacity of the respective stadia. There are plans to increase that to 50 per cent if things go as per the plan in the first few weeks.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mar 26 2022 | 2:54 PM IST

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