It’s been two months now, since the cancellation of the One-day series between India and South Africa on March 14, that the Indian team has not stepped out on the field. In fact, like everyone else across the country, Virat Kohli & Co have found themselves quarantined over the last 60-odd days, making do with whatever resources at their disposal to work on their cricket and aspects of physical and mental fitness.
However, there’s been a lot at play behind the scenes for the senior Team India cricketers, coaches, the support staff and the men in charge of the National Cricket Academy (NCA), led by Rahul Dravid. The BCCI, a few weeks ago, put in place an initiative and an app - charting out a four-stage programme - that is under implementation right now and will continue until the lockdown is over and normal life resumes.
“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,” BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal said.
Like other professionals, it’s been ‘work from home’ for the Indian team too. The BCCI had, some time ago, put in place a video-based application that was available 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 dont's.
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, chat rooms, questionnaires (prepared for the purpose of maintaining records) and more. A four-stage program has been drafted to allow players to get through the different phases of the ongoing lockdown.
“When the situation permits, 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 when cricket resumes, they can return to the field,” Dhumal added.
Head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, batting coach Vikram Rathour and fielding coach R Sridhar said that 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 when cricket resumes, these boys will have to be at their best immediately. 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,” says Shastri.