SYDNEY Thunder coach Shane Bond has encouraged his players, including Ulladulla's Matthew Gilkes, to treat Canberra like home for the rest of the year after arriving in the capital on Friday ahead of five Big Bash fixtures at Manuka Oval.
Fresh from a two-and-a-half Indian Premier League bubble in the United Arab Emirates, Bond has backed his squad to handle this season's biosecurity protocols, and is desperate to make the most of their time in Canberra.
Cricket Australia is under significant pressure from players and coaches to relax their COVID-19 restrictions, which will force participants to live life in biosecure bubbles to facilitate the tournament.
Families will be permitted to enter the bubble, but interaction with the wider public is forbidden.
For Bond, the unpopular measures will be a significant improvement upon oppressive IPL bubble conditions.
"It was a complete bubble, we were locked down with hotel staff, hairdressers, bus drivers, they were all living with us in the hotel for two and a half months," Bond said.
"When you talk about a bubble that's the ultimate of what it was, we were in a country where COVID was rising. Here there's barely a case and it's sort of halfway in between.
"I know there's some frustrations in and around the rules, there's always inconsistencies so I sort of get that frustration. At the end of the day you can't let it weigh you down.
"We can still go out and about, we can still have families. It's certainly not as restrictive as touring India with the national team or the bubble that I've just come out of. We just have to get on with it.
"I'm just excited we've got the chance to play the tournament, I'm excited about the season ahead. It's a brilliant tournament."
The Thunder are midway through a three-day training lockdown after taking a coach from Sydney late Friday afternoon.
As of Tuesday they'll be able to embrace their new surrounds, and prepare for Bond's third BBL season which begins at Manuka on Saturday night against last season's runners up, the Melbourne Stars.
Bond's team will play five matches in Canberra including a Boxing Day blockbuster against the Melbourne Renegades. They'll spend three and a half weeks in town before continuing their campaign in the new year with two matches in Queensland.
By then, Bond was hopeful CA restrictions for the tournament will have been eased.
"We've got some people who have been on the road since July," Bond said.
"Everyone's story and perspective is different, I've just got to make sure I maneuver that. I said to the guys there's not one hard and fast rule for the group.
"We just have to be empathetic to them and just see how people cope, probably like we have to be as a team. I've got a great bunch of boys here so it's not going to be a problem."
Big Bash at Manuka Oval
Dec 11: Melbourne Stars vs Brisbane Heat
Dec 12: Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Thunder
Dec 14: Sydney Thunder vs Brisbane Heat
Dec 22: Sydney Thunder vs Perth Scorchers
Dec 26: Sydney Thunder vs Melbourne Renegades
Dec 29: Sydney Thunder vs Melbourne Stars