Under quarantine for over 60 days, Indian cricketers have found themselves, for once, on equal terms with other sportspersons in the country. On the outside looking in, forced to use whatever resources available to keep themselves mentally and physically fit. With no clear picture of what future tours and tournaments may even take place, a huge amount of focus rightly has fallen on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and their approach towards the future.
It has been revealed that a few weeks ago, the BCCI came up with a four-stage plan that is under implementation already and supposed to continue till the lockdown is lifted.
"It's a stepwise process that's been put in place and the secretary (Jay Shah) is reviewing the progress on a 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," BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal told TOI. The details of the plan are below.
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The Four Stage Plan
Stage 1: Complete Lockdown
Questionnaires have been presented to all centrally contracted players to understand the facilities available to them under lockdown. For example, Mohd Shami is at a farmhouse which has an open field while Bhuvneshwar Kumar is at an apartment with very little gym equipment at his disposal.
Team India physiotherapist Nitin Patel and trainer Nick Webb have been given access to them via an app and engage with players daily to track their regimen and training. Batting and bowling coaches are holding sessions separately, under the supervision of the head coach.
“That aside, Team India coaches are holding sessions with the National Cricket Academy (NCA) coaching staff and there's an effort being made to bring around a sense of uniformity (in coaching at all levels," a source in the know said.
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Stage 2: Partial Lockdown
According to sources, once the partial lockdown comes into effect programs will change. Players will be taken out to local stadiums and ‘skillswise programs’ will come into effect. This of course is dependent on a go-ahead from state and central governments.
Stage 3: As normal Life Resumes
The Board is in the process of establishing a blueprint to figure out a specific centre where the cricketers can be moved to in a few weeks so that they can undergo skill-based training once the lockdown is lifted, normal life resumes and travelling is possible.
Stage 4: Resumption of Cricket
The Indian team, like any other professional space, has been working from home as well. A while ago, the BCCI had set up a video-based application that was available to all players, coaches and support staff of the senior Indian team. The clips included individual performances, team efforts, bowler or batsman-specific duels, a database stating the causes of frequent injury and other material to work on the possible do’s and don’ts.
The four stage program has been drafted to enable the players to make it through the different phases of the ongoing lockdown.
"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," head coach Ravi Shastri said in an interview with TOI.
Batting coach Rathour has put his focus on individuals and specifics. "It's a rare window of opportunity to introspect," he told TOI, “"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".
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A list of 25 questions, feedbacks from cricketers -- that can be part of worksheets for team evaluation has been prepared by Fielding coach Sridhar.
Questions like what they learnt from the last series or the last year of cricket, what targets they want to set and achieve once cricket begins, what kind of practice sessions are suiting a player the most and any discrepancies that have crept in dominate the discussions.
"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," bowling coach Arun told TOI.
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