Forced break a ‘welcome rest’ for Indian players: Shastri

India head coach Ravi Shastri

New Delhi, India head coach Ravi Shastri believes the forced break for the Indian players which has come due to the coronavirus pandemic is a “welcome rest” as they can now re-energise themselves and get some much-needed rest.

Talking to Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Rob Key on a Sky Sports podcast, Shastri said Indian players had started showing signs of mental fatigue after playing five T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests in New Zealand.

“(This rest) cannot be a bad thing because towards the end of the New Zealand tour, you could see some cracks coming up when it came to mental fatigue, physical fitness and injuries,” Shastri said.

“The amount of cricket we have played over the last ten months, that was beginning to take its toll. Guys like me, and some other guys from the support staff, we left India on May 23 for the World Cup in England. Since then we have been at home for 10 or 11 days.

After the New Zealand tour, India were slated to play three ODIs against South Africa which was cancelled. Also, they were supposed to participate in a two-month long Indian Premier League (IPL), which has now been suspended till April 15.

“There are certain players who played all three formats, so you can imagine the toll it has taken on them, especially being on the field, adjusting from T20s to Test match cricket and all the travel that goes with that because we travelled quite a lot,” said Shastri.

“After England, we went to the West Indies, then played South Africa here (in India). We had a season of two and a half months here and then again went off to New Zealand. So, it has been tough but a welcome rest for players.”

India is currently under a 21-day lockdown which started on March 25. All sporting events have been postponed in the wake of novel coronavirus which has infected more than 800 people so far in the country besides claiming close to 20 lives.

The Indian head coach further said that they had anticipated that such drastic measures would be taken and cricketing activities will be suspended for a while after the postponement of the ODI series against the Proteas. He also said that the Indian team were able to reach the homeland in the nick of time from New Zealand.

Shastri further said that in the present scenario, players should not focus about getting back on the field but take responsibility and spread awareness about this pandemic.

“As players, you have a lot of responsibility,” he said. “That’s why the message is very clear that cricket should be last on everyone’s mind now,” he said. “I think the most important thing is safety and not ensuring just your safety but ensuring safety others as well, by creating a kind of awareness that tells people there is something serious around.

“Virat has done it, a lot of other players have done it by posting certain messages on social media. So, it’s imperative but all the players were very, very calm. They knew that it’s something very serious and there could be a hold up in cricket for some time,” he added.

Cricketers, both past and present, have been urging people to stay indoors and adhere to the guidelines of the health authorities in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.