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Batter up - Suzie Bates on what we can control right now

For Whitefern Suzie Bates, the Cricket World Cup has been a long time coming.

It’s a once-in-a career opportunity for the cricketer, which is why she and her teammates are putting in the hard yards to stay not only physically fit – but mentally fit as well.

It’s also a ‘weird time’ for the team, who must stick to a cricketing bubble as they work towards the World Cup on March 4.

Speaking to All Right? ahead of a t/20 game against India in Queenstown on February 9, Suzie says the team are sticking close to each other, ordering takeaways and sitting outside where they can, while avoiding busy supermarket shopping times.

“It’s to protect us for the World Cup. Nobody wants to get COVID and pass it on.”

They’ve been told to prepare to be in their team bubble for up to two months until April, the final of the World Cup. For many in the team, it means not being able to see partners and family for some time, unless socially distanced. Suzie says it was overwhelming at first, but she and her teams are committed to getting to the World Cup.

“If there is one good thing that COVID has brought to athletes, it is the fact you don’t have as much control over your schedule and you can’t plan that far ahead, so we’re having to learn how to be even more present in the day to day.”

Suzie says some good stuff has come from playing during a pandemic.

She and her teammates are now having ‘proper conversations’ with their mental skills psychologists about all the things they can incorporate into their plans to stay mentally fit.

“It’s not just about performance but staying mentally fit, especially when the things you typically use to get away from cricket are taken away from you. I think we’re all now mentally in a better place and we have access to a support person to discuss our wellbeing.”

“So while it’s been weird times for athletes, there’s been even more support for athlete wellbeing.”

Suzie ensures she sticks to a healthy routine, including scheduling downtime, which helps during those times when she is confined to her hotel room or away from friends and family.

“I’m a diary girl on tour so I schedule in all our team requirements and then I like to plan how I’m going to use my free time. So every day on tour, like down here in Queenstown, I schedule in time to get out to the lake to read a book.”

“I have important support people to connect with outside our bubble too, like Mum and Dad.”

For Suzie and her teammates, one of the most important things is “having their getaways”.

When confined to their cricket bubble, it can be easy to only talk to each other and about cricket, says Suzie.

While they love talking cricket, the team sometimes enforces a ‘no cricket chat’ policy over dinner so they can switch off.

Suzie has learnt a lot over the past two years about the benefits of having a healthy routine and she is only too happy to pass them on to others.

“For me, no matter what you try to do, find a routine. But also don’t go hard on yourself and think you have to stick to it 24/7.”

Suzie suggests planning for what to do each day and sticking to a regular bedtime and wake up time. It’s how she helped get herself through the first lockdown in 2020.

Now with the World Cup fast approaching, Suzie can’t wait to get started but she has a game plan of her own in the lead up to it.

“We are desperate to do well at home but I’m also not trying to look too far into the future, which is something our captain, Sophie Devine really encourages us to do. I am just trying to savour the moment until then.”

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