Key paceman Josh Hazlewood
Key paceman Josh HazlewoodAFP

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has lost a few big names in a few months, but the pullout of Aussies Mitchell Marsh and Josh Hazlewood has once again brought the focus on the difficulties faced by professional cricketers while living in a bio-bubble continuously.

After pace bowling all-rounder Marsh pulled out of the SunRisers Hyderabad camp on Wednesday, Chennai Super Kings’ Australian fast bowler Hazlewood withdrew on Thursday.

Before the duo, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) Australian wicket-keeper-batsman Josh Phillippe had withdrawn this month.

Ahead of the player auction, England pace bowler Mark Wood, who had impressed during the recent limited-overs series against India, had withdrawn at the last moment. And before him, Dale Steyn had announced his unavailability for this IPL season.

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Four of the five foreign players to have pulled out are fast bowlers. It is quite evident that they want to preserve themselves as the bio-bubble has made life difficult for many players who are trying to balance their international commitments with franchise obligations.

“It’s been a long 10 months in bubbles and quarantine at different times, so I decided to have a rest from cricket and spend some time at home and in Australia in the next two months,” Hazlewood told cricket.com.au while explaining why he pulled out.

“We’ve got a big winter ahead too. The West Indies is going to be a long tour, with Bangladesh (T20 tour) potentially thrown on the end of that,” he said. “Then potentially the T20 World Cup leading into the Ashes, so it’s a big 12 months, as it always is with Australia, and I want to give myself the best chance to be mentally and physically ready for that. That’s the decision I’ve made, and it sits pretty well with me.”

While most players have gone through a hard grind in recent times, the sudden rise in Covid-19 cases in India have also raised some concerns. If anything, life in a bio-secure environment will be tougher and stricter during this edition of IPL.

After the end of the ODI series against England on Sunday, India skipper Virat Kohli had complained about scheduling. He said that playing cricket continuously in a bio-bubble would be tough.

“Scheduling needs to be looked at in future because playing in bio-bubbles for so long, two to three months, is going to be very, very difficult, going forward,” he had said. “You can’t expect everyone to be at the same level of mental strength. Sometimes you do get cooked and you do feel like a bit of a change.”

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