Shastri, Kohli say expansion of game, mental health challenges may force issue
Head coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli said that countries may increasingly be forced to field different teams at the same time, if international fixtures across formats begin to overlap.
India is faced with such a situation — with the Test squad engaged in England, a separate group of white-ball cricketers will tour Sri Lanka for ODIs and T20Is in July.
“At the moment it is happening because of the current situation and restrictions on travel. But you never know in future… if you want to expand the game in the shorter formats, it could be the way to go,” Shastri said ahead of the team’s departure to England.
“If you want to have that kind of volume of cricket … If you are talking about Olympics in four or eight years’ time, then you need more countries to play the game.”
Kohli added that the mental toll of life in a biosecure bubble could also contribute to the trend.
“It’s very difficult for players to stay motivated for long periods of time and find the right kind of mental space,” he said. “Just confined in one area and just doing the stuff day in, day out, and dealing with high-pressure situations… so, this will definitely become a norm where apart from the workloads, I think the mental health side of things will also come into picture big time because you don’t have an outlet at all in today’s day and age.”
Kohli said that the team management is trying its best to help players deal with the COVID-19 protocols.
“As much hard work as we have done to create this team, you don’t want players falling out because of the mental pressures and not having the capacity or space to express themselves,” he said.
“That channel has to be always open — the management has left it open — for the players to approach them and tell them: ‘Look, I am not feeling right in the head. I just need a little break and I just want to disconnect from the game.’ That’s going to be a huge factor and I am sure Ravi bhai and the management feels the same.”
Shastri hinted that a rotation policy is likely to be adopted in the series against England, considering the mental health aspect and the challenges of “playing five Tests in six weeks”.
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