In an exclusive interview with Times of India, team India batting coach Vikram Rathour spoke on a plethora of topics, including the challenges moving forward. The nationwide lockdown and the rapidly rising cases of COVID-19 in India have the cricketers and support staff scratching their heads. With cricket undergoing a never-seen halt like before since more than three months, players will go through a mountain of challenges when it resumes.
The last instance of international cricket took place back in March when Australia faced New Zealand in a winning effort in an ODI at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Since then, the Indian Premier League (IPL) was called off indefinitely while the series involving Sri Lanka, England, Ireland, and Bangladesh also faced the same fate. Therefore, without playing any competitive cricket, athletes have got rusty, which is a cause for concern.
While many have opined that bowlers would find it tougher than the batsmen to get into the groove, Vikram Rathour believes that’s not the case. The positive thing from their batting perspective is that the physios and trainers are monitoring the players’ indoor fitness regimes. Hence, a few weeks’ outdoor practice sessions and some domestic games would get them well prepared for international fixtures.
“I don’t think so. It will be equally challenging for both – batsmen and bowlers – to get back to their peak form after a long break like this. The good thing is that most of the players have been managing to train well during the lockdown. Their fitness routines are being monitored closely by the trainers and physios. So, we are hoping that whenever the outdoor sessions start, it will be a matter of few weeks of practice and then they should be ready to start playing some practice/domestic matches and then on to international cricket.”
Vikram Rathour in support of playing in stadiums without spectators:
While cricketing brains discuss all the possible methods to get the sport to resume, it is without a doubt that the earliest games amid the pandemic will have to take place without spectators. The Test series beginning next month between England and West Indies in England is slated to be held behind closed doors. When asked Vikram Rathour, he feels that it is not the ideal way; however, the players will somehow manage it.
“The priority will be for cricket to start. If at that time, there are still no vaccinations available, then whatever precautions required, we will have to take. If that means having to play in empty stadiums, so be it. It is not ideal but I’m sure that the players will manage it.”