Rahul Dravid has refused to extend support to the concept of resuming cricket in a bio-secure environment, claiming that such an arrangement is likely to run into problems.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) recently announced its plans to host Pakistan and West Indies for the international summer amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the steps taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, the ECB has floated the idea of bio-secure bubbles where players will be kept in isolation for a prolonged period and play matches in front of empty stands.
However, former India skipper Dravid is not convinced that this offers a viable solution and spoke on the logistical challenges involved.
“It is a bit unrealistic to have things at the level the ECB is talking about. Obviously, the ECB is very keen to conduct these series because they have had no other cricket,” he stated in a webinar conducted in support of YUVA, a non-profit development organisation.
“Even if they are potentially able to create a bubble and manage it in that way, I think it will be impossible for everyone to do it with the kind of calendar that we have, with the travelling that you do on tours and the number of people involved."
Dravid further expressed concerns over the possibility of a positive virus test for a player midway through the series jeopardising the whole tour.
“All of us are hoping that things will evolve with time and get better once we have better medication.
“In case of the bio-bubble, you do all the testing, the quarantine and then on day two of the Test match, what if one player tests positive? What happens then? The rules, as they stand now, will see the Public Health Department coming in and putting everyone in quarantine.”
"That will mean an abrupt end to proceedings in the Test match…that ends all the expenses that were made to get everyone there and create that environment."
The 47-year-old, who played his last international game in 2012, also shed light on the impact of the virus-enforced break from cricket, which is expected to cause players to become rusty due to lack of match practice.
Dravid, nevertheless, maintained professional athletes would be able to brave off the mental toll owing to the lockdown once they step onto the field.
“As sportsmen, we are used to dealing with a lot of uncertainty during our careers. Everything doesn’t fall into place. You tend to get scared and worried about stuff but I think one of the things that I would have done is think about things I can control.
“All you can control is your preparation, practice, emotional and mental well-being. You cannot control your results or performances…maybe it would take a bit of time to catch up to their original skill level. But that won’t take long. It is just like riding a bicycle."
Cricket, like other sports, will now be played without raucous crowds until the threat of the virus subsides, thus depriving players of the experience of thriving in an electrifying ambience.
Dravid admitted motivation levels could potentially droop as a result of this but asserted that the pride attached to representing one's country trumped other anxieties.
“Players love to perform in front of a crowd, engage with their fans and that adds incredible complexity to a sport. I think that’s what a player will definitely miss. There is a personal self-satisfaction when you perform in front of a large crowd.”
“At a professional level, players will adjust and not let it affect their performances much. A professional, once he or she gets on to the field, has a lot of pride in oneself.
“So they will find a way to deal with that. But the experience at the end of the day is not going to be the same.”