How the Proteas are handling bubble fatigue, past tournament mental struggles

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Temba Bavuma of South Africa speaks to media.(Photo by Isuru Sameera Peris/Gallo Images)
Temba Bavuma of South Africa speaks to media.(Photo by Isuru Sameera Peris/Gallo Images)
(Photo by Isuru Sameera Peris/Gallo Images)

Like the Proteas crest on their left breast pocket, mental health struggles have stuck to the South African men's team at major International Cricket Council tournaments.

This time around, they may not be overburdened by the weight of expectation under which previous squads have crumbled, but Temba Bavuma's Proteas arguably face an even tougher task: mental health in a pandemic bubble.

Since cricket resumed late last year, bio-safe environments have been the only way to go.

Some players, such as Lungi Ngidi, have admitted to struggling in the cocoon.

READ | Proteas skipper Bavuma' feeling good', set to resume De Kock opening partnership

It's a facet that Bavuma says the team has paid particular focus towards by arriving early in the UAE for the T20 World Cup, getting quarantine obligations out of the way and trying to normalise their environment as safely as possible.

"It's a tough aspect of it all," he says.

"We've been in these bio-bubbles for quite a while and, outside the field, we try to do as much as we can to keep us relax and busy from a recreational point of view.

"We've got a games room, guys can play pool or do a little bit of water activity. We are trying as much as possible to bring back a bit of normality to it all.

"If you asked me, it would be nice to be without a bubble, but it is what it is. Coming early has been good for us to get our quarantine period out of the way.

"Now, we can try to make things as comfortable as we can."

The T20 World Cup that begins this Sunday is one of the rarest tournaments where South Africa does not enter as one of the top three competition favourites.

The flip side is that they are now free from the tags that dogged that has team since their failures in big tournaments.

"In terms of previous South African teams or labels that have been put on us around these events, we've had those conversations as a team," he says.

"We've accepted that those pressures will always be there until we bring back some sort of silverware. I don't think it's something we have to carry on our shoulders." 

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