(Reuters) - Australian batsman Steve Smith has ruled out participating in the country's domestic Twenty20 Big Bash League this season, saying that continuing to play in bio-secure bubbles amid the COVID-19 pandemic will take a toll on his mental health.
Smith has already experienced life in different bubbles, first when the Australian T20 squad toured England and now with the Rajasthan Royals in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), which is being played in the United Arab Emirates.
The Big Bash League is set to start in December and run till February, with Australia's national-team players expected to play for their domestic sides in the latter stages after India's tour of Australia -- which will also be played in bio-secure bubbles.
"I'll be honest with you, absolutely no chance," Smith was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/30221082/absolutely-no-chance-steven-smith-rules-playing-big-bash-league. "It's still early days with the bubbles. We don't know how long it's going to last for.
"There's an uncertainty there. It's just going to be about having open conversations with coaches, general managers, whoever, to ensure that people are keeping their head space in a reasonable place.
"When guys are starting to find things a bit tough mentally from just living in the bubble, being able to get out - even if it might just be a few days of being normal might be a real help. Those conversations need to be had."
Smith is not the first player to have concerns over players' mental health in bubbles, with England's limited overs captain Eoin Morgan also saying players may withdraw from tours if their mental health is at risk.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)