India may have crushed minnows Namibia by nine wickets in their last match in this year’s T20 World Cup, but there is no disguising the fact that the tournament has been a huge disappointment for the country.

Tipped by many as the pre-tournament favourites, instead they failed to qualify for the semi-finals of an ICC event for the first time since 2012.

And, in a country where cricket has the status of a national obsession, the inquests have already begun.

Ravi Shastri who has now stepped down as head coach is in no doubt that one reason for the team’s mediocre performance is that many of them are physically and mentally exhausted.

In the past 11 months they enjoyed a historic winning test series in Australia, have played eight tests with England, contested the World Test Championship, and also played limited overs series with England and India.

In addition, some of the players have spent almost six months in a bio-secure bubble, isolated from family and friends and forced to rely on games and online entertainment like games and casinos such as as featured here, to keep them amused.

IN addition to the demands of international cricket there has been the IPL as well, which was suspended in May when the Covid bubble in India, and then resumed in the UAE immediately prior to the T20 World Cup.

One man who has taken his fair share of criticism is captain Virat, who was skipper in all forms of the game, but who has now stood down as skipper of the T20 side. Many feel that he may just walk away from international T20 cricket altogether now, as a means of prolonging his test career.

Both Kohli and Shastri were blamed for their conservative approach to games, preferring for their side to get a foothold in matches and then to open up, as opposed to sides like England and Pakistan which have been aggressive from the very first ball.

However, before too may brickbats are thrown at their team, Indian cricket fans may need to ask themselves if they are demanding too much of their players. They may be well paid, but that comes at a price which may be their mental health.

Already this year tennis player Naomi Osaka and gymnast Simone Biles have shoe a spotlight on what continuous exposure to the scrutiny of the media and the public can do to an athlete’s mental wellbeing.

And there are examples closer to home in cricket. Australia’s Glenn Maxwell, , South Africa’s Quinton de Kock, and the England pair of Ben Stokes and Moeen Alli are just some of the international cricketers who have chosen to take time away from the game to focus on their mental health.

Eventually something has to give. Cricketers are human beings and need proper rest from time to time. If India, or any other nation for that matter, wants their team to perform at its best

In international tournaments, then they have to accept that the top players cannot play all the time.

Perhaps the 2021 T20 World Cup may serve as a wake-up call.