The deadly coronavirus has brought a complete lockdown to cricket around the world as well. One has never ever experienced such a catastrophe with every country around the globe under a threat of such magnitude.
The packed cricket schedule is and will be completely disrupted. When cricket will commence again is unknown and uncertain. However, for cricketers, one feels this is a time for them to reflect on what they did in the past and how they plan to go ahead in the future.
International cricketers have been bickering about playing cricket all throughout the year and so this break from the game could be just the tonic they require to give themselves that extra energy when the virus cloud subsides.
Unfortunately, the most popular T20 tournament, the Indian Premier League (IPL), that millions of cricket fans were looking forward to, looks like being cancelled this year. With the T20 World Cup slated to be played in Australia at the end of the year, the IPL was the platform that all the cricketers were focused on, to make their mark. Apart from this, the IPL brings in financial gains that many cricketers live on to keep their home fires burning.
Unfortunately, the professional and commercial world of today has made 90 per cent of the cricketers similar to daily workers. They get paid only when they play or have a short-term contract per se. There are central contracts for only players playing for their respective country cricket boards, but even for them, the amount is not substantial for their living star status. It is there to give them a sense of financial comfort, if and when they get injured or indisposed.
Indian domestic cricketers were fortunate that such a major calamity did not come about earlier and that it happened at the very end of their season. This, therefore, gets one to reflect on and realize that all present first-class cricketers, similar to what BCCI does for their international players, should be on a contract with their respective associations.
Players involved with the IPL should also have a force majeure clause. The coronavirus definitely falls into that category. One hopes that the BCCI as well as the franchisees are adequately covered for such a tsunami.
The complete lockdown and the mandate to remain indoors must be a frustrating situation for all sportsmen. A cricketer, however, should look at this time with a positive frame of mind. Cricket has a lot of physical activities but it is as much a mental game. This is the time for a cricketer to evaluate cricket videos of their matches, as well as those of previous important innings and matches. It is a time for them to educate, learn and prepare for the future.
A well trained and focused mind can be developed through professional coaches online which will make them stronger and surer in achieving their goals in the future.
There are many ways of improving one’s batting skills at home. The great Sunil Gavaskar did it through practising in front of his mirror with a special focus on his leg and bat movements. As his roommate during India’s tour to England in 1979, he made me play my defensive shots a hundred times every day in front of the mirror. It did wonders for my confidence when I went to play out in the middle.
The greatest batsman ever, Sir Donald Bradman, improved his foot and eye coordination by playing against his wall with a stump and a golf ball. This, he said, is what improved his batting skills immensely.
The four walls of the house are ideal for honing one’s skills in cricket. Apart from batting, one can improve ones’ catching and for a bowler his wrist movement and swing can be improved by bowling with a plastic ball.
One is happy to read that the Indian team’s fitness coach has an exercise and strength building regime structured for the present Indian players to do so at home during this curfew.
India’s famous fit and untiring tennis star, Leander Paes, has had a foreign fitness coach for over two decades. He interacts with his coach on a regular basis online. GPS monitoring sensors measure all his body parameters and only thereafter, his weekly schedule is put into place. Paes said that this is what has kept him fit and agile and one cannot doubt it, as he is still playing top level tennis at the age of 46.
This is the time for an Indian cricketer to utilize technology and the world of mental and physical strengthening. A chance to reflect on what worked for him and what did not.
Cricket followers would never have had such a break from following live sporting action as what one is encountering at present. When the curtain is lifted, one can just imagine the way cricket popularity will escalate. Whereas, the cricketers who have been smart about reflecting and rejuvenating will be the winners.