New Zealand fast bowler Trent Boult has joined the list of big names to voice concerns about life in bio-secure bubbles, saying such a lifestyle is going to play a "big role" in the way players plan their schedules as the international calendar picks up after IPL 2020. Boult is looking ahead to a busy New Zealand summer, having landed in the country on November 12 after winning the IPL with the Mumbai Indians, which kept him away from home for nearly three months. He is currently serving a 14-day quarantine in Christchurch.
"I can't speak for everyone but it's definitely going to play a big role in the game," Boult told ESPNcricinfo when asked whether players will be forced to pick and choose series because of bio-bubble rules going forward. "Having to come back to New Zealand you have to spend two weeks in a hotel before you can even be let out. It's crazy what the world is facing at the moment, it's almost surreal, and it's going to be a hard one to say what guys are feeling and what they're able to do. Speaking from playing in the IPL I've just been to, it's brilliant to be back out on the field and offer something for everyone to watch and it was closely followed all around the world."
New Zealand's next assignment is a home T20I series against West Indies starting November 27 for which Boult has been rested. He will feature in the Tests from December 3 in Hamilton. After finishing isolation on November 26, Boult will get a few days with his family before he joins the Test squad.
"Ya, I think it's going to be a tough one to forecast," Boult said. "Having experienced three and a half months away from my young family - I have two young boys and a wife back home whom I haven't seen - so you can imagine it's a big sacrifice to just pack up and leave for a quarter of the year and looking at potential tours next year, there's potential to be away for nine to ten months."
Boult is currently in Managed Isolation Quarantine (MIQ) like the other New Zealand players who returned from the IPL in the UAE. They spent their first three days in isolation and started training at the sports MIQ facility from November 16 after negative Covid-19 test results. Boult has been training there with bowling coach Shane Bond, who was also with him in the Mumbai dressing room during the IPL.
Bond had recently said it was "important" to give Boult a break before the summer in which New Zealand are also scheduled to play Pakistan in December-January for three T20Is and two Tests, before they host Australia in February.
"I have two young boys and a wife back home whom I haven't seen - so you can imagine it's a big sacrifice to just pack up and leave for a quarter of the year."TRENT BOULT
"I think it's important [Boult gets a break]," Bond said last week. "He's got a couple of young kids. To fly out from here and go straight into games and not have a chance to catch up with his family would have been a massive mistake.
"I suppose part of him being here is to get a little bit more volume, in terms of his overs, under his belt. It's always a challenge when you're in the IPL - it's stinking hot, you don't train as much, and obviously you're playing a game that's four overs. So it gives him a little bit of time to get some volume here and in the week, two weeks before the Test matches start against the West Indies.
"I think for his own sanity, he just would need to get home and spend a little bit of time with his family before he has another busy summer, so it's a good decision."
Boult is not the first big international player to show concern about living in bio-bubble environments. David Warner said earlier on Monday the last six months had been "very challenging" as players tried to get used to living in bubbles without their families while being restrained to team hotels and then serving a quarantine period on return. South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada - while comparing biosecure bubbles with "luxury prisons" - said the experience can be "quite tough because you are surrounded by four walls the whole time and that can be a factor mentally".
Starting November 27, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa all face busy summers as Australia host India for a full tour, and South Africa host England for T20Is and ODIs, and Sri Lanka for Tests.
Vishal Dikshit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo