England's red-ball captain Joe Root has said that England players are free to opt out of the upcoming tours of Sri Lanka and India. Root emphasized that players are entitled to return home if their mental health is affected by the bio-bubble protocols.
England's tour of Sri Lanka that begins on 14 January kickstarts a subcontinent tour spanning nearly three months. Following the two Tests and three ODIs against Sri Lanka, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan's men are scheduled to feature in four Tests, three ODIs, and five T20Is in India.
The touring party departs for Hambantota on Saturday evening with a psychologist amongst their ranks for the first time. Speaking in a pre-tour press conference, Joe Root said that he is hopeful that the players will utilize this extra resource. He also shed light on the importance of his role to ensure that all members of the team are comfortable with the environment so that they can deliver to the best of their abilities.
"There's going to be a little bit of extra support for the players in terms of a psychologist on the ground at all times making sure there's someone to speak to. And as captain, a big part of my role is to make sure people are comfortable in the environment, in a position to be at the top of their game and play Test cricket to the best of their ability," Joe Root said.
Joe Root emphasized that players can still decide to opt out of the tour should they feel that the bio-bubble restrictions are having too much of a mental toll on them.
"Everyone is very aware that if at any stage it becomes too much they are entitled to get out and that's an important thing to remember. It's important they can say if they don't feel they're in the right space physically or mentally to go out and represent their country. As players, you have a responsibility to speak up, not just use the staff but the other guys around you as well," he added.
All 23 of England's squad members, which includes reserve players, have cleared their COVID-19 tests. They will observe a quarantine period in Hambantota before flying off to Galle for two Tests that are to be played behind closed doors. This Test series was originally scheduled to take place in March 2020, but was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
England squad: Joe Root (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ben Foakes (wk), Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.Published 02 Jan 2021, 14:42 IST