England tour of South Africa: Players may withdraw from tours due to bubble burnout: Eoin Morgan

Eoin Morgan and Jason Holder have expressed their reservations about players spending long periods of time in bio-secure bubbles, warning that it can lead to “extreme burnout”.

Both Morgan and Holder have spent time in bio-secure bubbles over the past few months, including the one put in place by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to manage the home summer season.

“We managed to fulfil all of our international fixtures for the summer. That was an unbelievable achievement for the teams that came across and the commitment the ECB showed. We’re extremely fortunate enough to be back playing,” Morgan was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.

The English white-ball skipper added that players can’t be expected to to spend extended periods in these bubble.

“But to keep that level of bubble for a 12-month period, or 10 of the 12 months that we normally travel, I think is untenable. I actually think it’s probably one of the more challenging times for anybody involved in the cricket industry.”

“You can drill a player both mentally and physically. And it can cause extreme burnout, which nobody wants to see,” he added.

Holder, who led the West Indies squad to England — marking the resumption of international cricket after the coronavirus outbreak — was in complete agreement with Morgan.

“It’s been demanding. It has been challenging. I’m blessed to be still working. There are lots of people in the world not working because of Covid and we’re still given the opportunity to entertain people and do something we really love.

“But something needs to be thought of in order to just try to free up things a little bit more for the players’ mental health,” Holder added.

The 34-year-old Morgan predicted that more and more players will pull-out from tours to protect their mental health.

“As a team, we’ve accepted that guys will come in and out of the bubble as they feel it’s affecting their mental health. Their health is a priority.”

“So I do think we’ll see more players pull out of tours. That’s just the reality of things. And I don’t think people should look down on it: they shouldn’t feel like they’re not doing their job or not committing to their country,” he added.

Mental health of athletes has come to the fore in the past couple of years, more so now with players spending time isolated from their families and friends.

“Lockdown for us in the UK was primarily focused on physical wellbeing, but maybe that was detriment of mental wellbeing.

“We actually want to be at the forefront of making it acceptable for people to say: ‘You know what, I need to spend time with my family now. I’m going to take this tour off.’ And then they step away for a month, just because of the extraordinary circumstances,” Morgan said.

Holder himself has spent several weeks in isolation due to the Test series against England, Caribbean Premier League and the IPL.

“I had two months in (the bubble) England. Then I was home literally for two days before I went to Trinidad (for the CPL) for a month-and-a-half. Then I spent four or five days at home in Barbados before I got a call to come over. So you’re back into isolation.

“And if you look at scheduling, it doesn’t get any easier. It’s literally going from bubble to bubble. Some places are accepting families and some aren’t.

“So it makes it harder to be away from your family and your loved ones. I haven’t seen Barbados properly in about five months and I don’t know when I’ll get back there,” Holder added.