Tom Banton WITHDRAWS from the Big Bash League due to start in Australia next month… raising more concerns about the mental health of cricketers being forced into bio-secure bubbles
- Tom Banton has withdrawn from Australian Big Bash League starting next month
- Exciting batsman was due to play for Brisbane Heat but will now return home
- 22-year-old raised concerns about spending more time in a bio-secure bubble
More concerns about the mental health of cricketers forced to spend weeks on end in bio-secure bubbles have been raised by Tom Banton’s withdrawal from the Big Bash League.
The exciting Somerset batsman was due to play for Brisbane Heat in the Australian franchise competition later this month but yesterday announced he will instead return home on Thursday from Cape Town along with the rest of England’s one-day squad.
It was prompted by Banton spending much of last summer in England’s on-site bubbles at the Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford before heading to the Indian Premier League and facing similar conditions with Kolkata in the United Arab Emirates.
Tom Banton has withdrawn from the Big Bash League in Australia next month after concerns at having to spend another period in a bio-secure bubble
It was perhaps a surprise England then forced him to spend another month behind closed hotel doors here where Banton has acted as a reserve for both the Twenty20 and 50-over squads and is likely to head home without playing a single game.
Those players heading to Australia have to spend a 14-day quarantine spell in a hotel room before being allowed to play in the Big Bash after Christmas and it was that which proved a bubble too far for Banton.
‘It has been harder than I thought spending so much time in the hubs and bubbles and I came to the realisation that it wasn’t doing me much good,’ said Banton yesterday. ‘I know the Heat looked after me really well last year and I was confident they would understand when I told them I was going home to regroup.’
Exciting Somerset batsman was due to play for Brisbane Heat in league starting next month
The 22-year-old had already spend much of the summer in a bubble whilst on England duty
The decision of the 22-year-old was backed by Brisbane coach Darren Lehmann, who said: ‘Tom is a terrific young man. We know he wouldn’t have made a decision like this without a considerable amount of soul-searching. The best option is for him to head home to his loved ones and give himself every chance to recover.’
It is the culmination of a difficult time for one of the best young players in England and a batsman compared to Kevin Pietersen for the sheer audacity and power of his stroke-play.
Banton has yet to fully break into England’s immensely strong white-ball set-up and even came under attack from comedian and actor John Cleese, a lifelong Somerset supporter, for putting the IPL before his county’s appearance in the Bob Willis Trophy final.
But there will be considerable sympathy for him now as cricket tries to come to terms with life in the new normal that is sure to extend to the rest of this winter and tours of Sri Lanka and India before hopes of an easing of the pandemic restrictions next spring.
Banton will return home with the rest of the England sqaud from South Africa on Thursday
The next hurdle for England will be Sri Lanka where they will play two Tests in Galle next month but are due to spend another 14-day quarantine period in Hambantota first, leaving on January 2.
Then England face two months in India on a full tour of red and white-ball matches that are provisionally due to take place in three India cities, with their board determined to stage the games themselves rather than relocating to the UAE.
England will want to take enlarged squads to both Sri Lanka and India but are resigned to having to again rest senior players to help them cope, with Jofra Archer looking certain to miss Sri Lanka after speaking out against bubbles at the end of last summer.
And on Friday Rory Burns became the latest player to express reservations about continuing with bio-secure conditions, saying he is likely to miss at least part of the Sri Lankan tour to be at the birth of his first child.