The BCCI, a few weeks ago, put in place an initiative and an app which contains a programme consisting four stages, that is under implementation right now and will continue until whenever the lockdown is over and normal life resumes.
These are the processes put in place, for all four stages of lockdown:
Stage 1- Complete lockdown
All centrally contracted players have been engaged and a questionnaire was presented to them in order to understand what were the facilities available to them under the lockdown. For example, Mohd Shami for instance is at a farmhouse where an open field is available to him. Bhuvneshwar Kumar on the other hand is stuck inside an apartment and has to make do with whatever little gym equipment he has at his disposal. Team India physiotherapist Nitin Patel and trainer Nick Webb have been given access to the app alongside the rest of the coaches. “There’s a daily interaction; in fact in some cases on an hourly basis to keep track of their daily regimen and the training sessions they’re undergoing at their homes. The batting and bowling coaches are having their own sessions with the team members. The head coach is overseeing this. That aside, the Team India coaches are holding sessions with the National Cricket Academy’s (NCA) coaching staff and there’s an effort being made to bring around a sense of uniformity (in coaching) at all levels,” those in the know of specific developments said.
In terms of physiotherapy, an online session is held through a video call on a daily basis. A weekly report is submitted on this. Chief physiotherapist Patel and his colleague Yogesh Parmar are hosting these sessions.
Stage 2- Partial lockdown
“Once the partial lockdown comes into effect, obviously the programs will change. We will get the players out in the local stadiums and skill-wise programs will come into effect, depending on the go-ahead from state and central governments. The programs for skill-based training are already in place,” they add.
Stage 3- When normal life resumes
The BCCI says it is busy putting in place a blueprint on how the cricketers can be moved to a specific centre, one that can be finalised in a few weeks from now, to undergo skill-based training once normal life resumes and travelling from one city to another becomes possible.
Stage 4- Resumption of cricket
When that happens, the Board is clear that players need to be in the right frame of mind and fitness to hit the field.
The BCCI had created a video based application a while ago which is accessible to all players, coaches and support staff of the senior Indian team. It included clips of individual performances, team efforts, bowler or batsman specific duels, a database on what caused frequent injuries and other material to work on the possible do’s and don’ts.
Last month, the entire data available on the video-based platform was uploaded on a mobile application that is now exclusively reserved for the Indian team and those who work with it. Every individual with access to the application can now log-in and be part of a work process that involves online training sessions, fitness, yoga, chatrooms, questionnaires and more. A four stage program (the one mentioned above) has been drafted to allow players get through the different phases of the ongoing lockdown.
BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal spoke to the Times of India regarding the same, saying, “It’s a step-wise process that’s been put in place and the secretary (Jay Shah) is reviewing the progress on a daily basis. What we’ve tried to do is divide this process into different phases. Aspects pertaining to physical and mental health of our cricketers, professional assistance online, monitoring of diets, fitness sessions etc are being conducted on a daily basis.”
“Our coaching staff is in regular touch with all the team members and conducting these sessions with all the players. As and when the situation permits, with the relaxing of norms, we will begin with skill-based training in local stadiums. We will keep reviewing the program dynamics subject to relaxation in lockdown norms so that, as and when cricket resumes, they can return to the field,” Dhumal added.
The coaching staff of the Indian Cricket team also expressed their views about the same to the Times of India. Head coach Ravi Shastri said, “It was extremely important to get going with this and the BCCI has done an excellent job in putting all of this together. The lockdown has not been easy on anyone, and the same goes for the cricketers. But the thing is, when cricket resumes, these boys will have to be at their best right from the word go. So, a lot of effort has to go into this, in whatever way possible. Secondly, it’s rare for anybody associated with the Indian team to get this kind of time to self-introspect, think about your own game and body, identify elements that have worked and that haven’t and go about accordingly.”
Vikram Rathour, the batting coach, is focusing on individuals and specifics. He said, “It’s a rare window of opportunity to introspect. It is the players who are doing the talking. I’m trying to listen, take it all in and work around the topics that are being brought up. We have an app. We’ve started to put videos in that app. Simple things, about facing a certain kind of bowler or foot movement, any particular way a batsman has been getting out, what’s worked for him what hasn’t. It’s an ongoing process,”
Bharat Arun, India’s bowling coach, said, “An international sportsperson is like a racehorse. So, it’s tragic when he/she can’t move around. Not being to expend that energy can be frustrating. It can be boring, monotonous, but that’s the challenge. The idea is to stay aware, stay motivated, work towards the bigger picture. This too shall pass.”
Fielding coach Sridhar has prepared a list of around 25 questions, which are feedback from cricketers, that can be part of worksheets for team evaluation. A few examples of such questions were as follows:
1) What did you learn from the last series or the last year of cricket
2) What’s the target you want to set and achieve once cricket begins
3) What kind of practice sessions are suiting a player the most
4) Any discrepancies that have crept in, etc.