‘Only proper activities can reduce anxiety’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 20, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 20, 2020

‘Only proper activities can reduce anxiety’

"The tough part for anyone is changing lifelong habits, but you can never underestimate the human mind's ability to adapt to any crisis or any changing situation, which has been proven time and again throughout human history."

Bangladeshi-born Canadian psychologist Ali Azhar Khan, who has been working with the country's cricketers for last few years, avowed the above words first before talking in details regarding players' challenges in new normal, where they have to maintain very necessary protocols.

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England pacer Jofra Archer's breach of protocols and the breach of social distancing rules in top-flight European football leagues only shows the huge challenges in adapting to the new normal. And especially when it comes to Bangladesh sport, many think things will not be that easy.

"It is undoubtedly challenging. This pandemic has already afflicted every aspect of our lives. We have never faced such a crisis in our life. Then what we are doing? We are already starting to find ways for survival. So I am confident that our players will be able to adapt to the new conditions very quickly," Ali said over the phone.

"My personal opinion is that we cannot wait further for the resumption of sport in our country, especially when, in my opinion, it will be easy to maintain the protocols in cricket training. Our players have been confined to their homes for the past three or four months and that is not good for their mental and physical health. Canada is at high risk in terms of infection but they still started different sport here. Other countries have also started sport following new guidelines, so we cannot wait more and I would say we could have started a bit earlier," he continued.

"You cannot force anybody, but we have to set a comprehensive strategy to tackle this situation. In regards to our strategy, we usually outsource to the Western world but we have tackle things our way, keeping our socio-economic and cultural conditions in mind. We should understand that if players continue to work from home, they may ultimately enter a shell of fear and become depressed, which will not help with their immune system. Holding onto panic means you will be more depressed.

"You cannot fix everything overnight. You have to go through a process of trial and error. So if you wait longer, you will be lagging behind others in terms of everything. In my opinion, cricket training can start in a full-fledged manner so that they can shake off the rust. I am sure the cricket board is working on every aspect, but in my opinion, the board can work on two separate policies -- one for domestic tournaments and other for internationals," he explained.

Ali has already started sessions with Bangladesh Under-19 players and will soon speak to women's cricketers. Many senior cricketers have also maintained communications with him individually for different suggestions during these difficult times. However, Ali believes that the time has come to think of arranging competitions.

"What we have done in the first two-three months is okay, but it's a time to face the new challenge. We have to understand that the functions of neurons are very important and rust means they will not fire. Players are going through anxiety and only proper activities can reduce that," he observed.

Cricket started to get back on the field after a few players returned to different grounds across the country yesterday, but Ali suggested more for them. "We can now think about providing them with some matches, so the BCB can think about arranging a domestic tournament which can be a good trial for what we are calling the new normal," he concluded.

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