Punjab Kings have announced that Chris Gayle will be leaving the IPL bio-bubble due to bubble fatigue. Having just arrived from the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) bubble, Gayle said he was looking to mentally refresh himself ahead of the T20 World Cup next month.
"Over the last few months, I have been a part of the CWI bubble, CPL bubble followed by the IPL bubble, and I wish to mentally recharge and refresh myself," Gayle said in a statement. "I want to refocus on helping the West Indies in the T20 World Cup and would like to take a break in Dubai. My thanks to the Punjab Kings for giving me the time off. My wishes and hopes are with the squad always. All the very best for the games coming up."
Only six players have played more T20 matches this year than Gayle's 37, which have come for four teams - West Indies, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Quetta Gladiators, and Kings. The 42-year-old played in two of Kings' three matches since the IPL resumed in the UAE. The Kings statement said Gayle is expected to be in Dubai before joining the West Indies squad for the World Cup that begins on October 17.
"I've played against Chris and have coached him at Punjab Kings and all through the years I've known him, he has always been an absolute professional and we as a team respect his decision and desire to prepare himself for the T20 World Cup," Anil Kumble, head coach of Kings, said.
Gayle had indicated that he was feeling bubble fatigue in a brief chat during the Kings' last match against Mumbai Indians on Tuesday. "It's tough. I am going mental," Gayle said to Danny Morrison on air when asked how he was coping with having shifted from the CPL bubble to the IPL bubble. "It's crazy. It's taking a toll. It's taking a toll. It's tough. It's tough. It's tough. But we will like to try and battle through it. Hopefully things can actually ease a bit down the line for cricketers. I am sure I am not the only one feeling this. The rest of the guys, I am sure, are feeling it as well. We will try and cope with it and see what happens."
Gayle isn't the first marquee cricketer over the last few months to have taken a break from bubble life. Ben Stokes pulled out of the England Test squad, missing their series against India, and Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and David Warner all pulled out of the Hundred earlier this year. The IPL, too, has had a number of withdrawals for the same reason already.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, player withdrawals due to bubble fatigue have been a feature in many tournaments and series across the world. Several of the withdrawals have had less to do with the fear of contracting Covid-19 and more with the demands of jumping from one stringent bubble to the other, with restricted movement and a life confined to hotels.