It has been two months since India went into lockdown mode. Elite athletes, fit and raring to go, haven’t had such a long break before, and it could particularly impact the bowling unit, with different muscles at play. India bowling coach Bharat Arun speaks about the challenging road back to peak match fitness, and what the ban on saliva use to shine the ball would mean.
For Indian cricketers used to being on the road all the time, how tough has the lockdown been?
It’s a huge challenge. Sportsmen need to be out on the field—running, practicing. This has been an extended break. It being a challenge, is also an opportunity. An international cricketer is never ever going to get this kind of time to work on his fitness. There is dedicated time for fitness. It would hold them in good stead when they are back.
How different is it for bowlers, as opposed to batsmen?
Fitness is the same for batting and bowling. Batsmen have to last, batting long innings, running between the wickets. There is catching and diving involved, so they need to be fit too. But fast bowlers need to be fitter than the rest of the team because it allows you to bowl fast over an extended period. Also, the higher score you have in fitness, the less likely chance of you getting injured.
Is running they miss the most?
Yes, there is no substitute to running on the field. But when you have access to the treadmill, you do have a chance to run.
One has to respect the norms set at the moment. Although it’s not the same as running outdoors, something is better than nothing.
How has the support staff been working with the players?
We have been in touch with the players. Everyone has specific roles. I work more with the bowlers, just to remind them that it could be a blessing in disguise—a chance to work on fitness. The fitter you are, it will definitely strengthen your skills.