Bio-bubbles have become a norm in the era of Covid-19. West Indies and England were the first sides to experience it, and a few months later the Indian team began their bio-bubble journey. Throughout the pandemic, cricketers have used and heard of terms such as bubble fatigue, and mental stress due to the confined space they are kept in.
The Indian team entered their first bio-bubble in September 2020. With the IPL in the UAE, each side were given a resort in which they had to quarantine, and then stay throughout the tournament. They couldn’t leave the resort unless it was for Cricket, and they only had their teammates for company. The only time they could meet another team was during the game, which lead to more multi-team interactions after a game of Cricket.
During the IPL, most of India’s multi-format players experienced the bio-bubble for the first time. Test specialists like Cheteshwar Pujara, and Hanuma Vihari travelled to the UAE mid-way to join the Test bio-bubble. Following the IPL, a contingent of over thirty players travelled to Australia for a multi-format series.
After spending two months, from September to November, the Indian team went straight to Australia. They had another two months of high-profile Cricket ahead of them. On reaching Australia, India had to face a variety of levels in bio-bubbles. While regions like Melbourne and Adelaide had some relaxation towards the bio-bubble norms, allowing the players to go out of the hotel occasionally, they also had to face certain moments with stricter protocols. Following three ODIs, three T20Is, and four Tests in Australia, the Indian team finally got to go back home.
On reaching India, they had a few days outside the bio-bubble, but had to get back in instantly for a multi-format series against England. The England side, who came up with a formula of rotating players in the bio-bubble came to India four a series from February up until March end. The side got another break from their bio-bubble journey for a few days. The break was brief as many players had to join their IPL bubbles soon. With covid-19 rising in India again, the protocols in place for the IPL were much stricter than normal.
The Indian Team was to stay in the bio-bubble through the IPL, and leave for England after the finals, for the World Test Championship finals. However, the suspension of the IPL gave the Indian Team an unplanned break. With a lot of chaos around, they were sent back home, and got to spend some time away from Cricket. A couple of weeks later, they found themselves back in Mumbai, going through a hard quarantine ahead of the England tour, and WTC Finals. They had their families with them, and once the quarantine period ended, they embarked on a three mnth long trip to England.
The protocols in England weren’t as strict, with players free to move around and interact with the public. Following the WTC Finals, the Indian Team was given a break, and could move around with freedom, although they had to remain in the UK. They were away from home, but got a month off, and finally assembled ahead of the five Test series. The first four Tests went through, but a few hurdles in the fourth Test, lead to some uneasiness in the camp. The coach, along with the physios tested, and the fifth Test was called off. Following the suspension of the series, the Indian Team made the journey back to the UAE for the IPL.
The Indian Team left India in June, reached the UAE mid-September and were facing another two months in isolation. The ongoing IPL has seen only one hurdle, with T Natarajan testing positive. Following the IPL, the Indian team will once again assemble in another bubble for the World Cup.
The World Cup is scheduled to end on November 14th, and following the World Cup, the Indian Team will only be given a short break. They’ll have New Zealand coming over, and it is uncertain whether the players will get to go home for a few days, or step straight into the bubble for the New Zealand. The Indian Team’s future remains uncertain as they have another away assignment in South Africa. However, the side has only been out of the bubble for a couple of brief periods ever since IPL 2020 began. They have fixtures after the World Cup, and will be in more bubbles, giving them more time away from home.
While the Indian Cricket team has spent a lot of time in bio bubbles, there are sides that have been in bubbles longer than them. Pakistan for instance, is one of the sides that have been touring none stop as well. Nevertheless, the Indian Team has spent a lot off time away from home, and they are going to see a lot more time on the road in the coming months. They have used a similar group of players throughout the last two years, and expanded their bench strength by playing using second group of player in Sri Lanka.