Will The Extended Rest Help Or Hurt The Performance Of Indian Cricketers?
The Indian cricket team is arguably the most active cricket team in the world as the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) do their best to pack the Indian cricketing calendar every season.
All Cricket Cancelled In India
The global corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic forced the BCCI to suspend the Indian Premier League (IPL) which was scheduled to start on March 29 and run till May 3. The rise in COVID-19 cases in India forced the government to enforce a national lockdown; it started on March 15 and is supposed to continue till May 2.
This is the first time in decades that there has been no cricket in India. The lockdown has ensured that no domestic cricket, IPL or international cricket in India can take place. Since the government is enforcing social distancing rules, it also means that there can be no net sessions for the players.
Cricket players in India have been forced to stay indoors just like the general public and have no access to practice their skills and no get rusty.
Will The Rest Help or Hurt Fitness?
While many believe that the extended downtime will help Indian players recover both physically and mentally, there are some who believe that it can also impact them negatively as not being able to have net practice will cause their cricketing skills to deteriorate slowly.
Indian players have been out of action now for close to 5 weeks and it is likely that they next 2 weeks could also have them locked indoors. So the question is whether a break from cricket for 7 to 8 weeks will have a major negative or positive impact?
We believe that a generic answer will not suffice as it will vary from player to player! These are the factors that one must consider when evaluating each player:
Fitness Levels Will Decrease
The fitness levels of each player will drop without a doubt as they have not been training. There could be a few exceptions as Indian captain Virat Kohli is a fitness freak and most likely has the equipment and space at home to keep working out and maintain both his cardio and muscle fitness.
The majority of Indian cricketers do not have the luxury of having their own personal gyms. Not being able to go out daily will impact both their cardio and overall fitness. Not being able to gain access to a gym to lift weights, can impact muscle and strength levels!
The fact that cricketers have been forced to stay at home could also impact their nutrition. Cricketers are human and with no one monitoring them; it is easy for them to stray from their strict diets and go over their daily calorie intake. This will certainly cause their fitness levels to decrease.
Form Levels Could Decrease
The lack of net sessions and time out in the middle will certainly impact the fast bowlers. The common theory is that fast bowlers need to send down a lot of overs in the nets. They need to find a proper rhythm that will help them be at their best. There is no doubt that the fast bowlers are going to be rusty; their speed levels may have dropped a bit.
Batsmen depend heavily on form and that comes when you are striking the ball well. With zero practice and net sessions, every batsman will have to work at finding their form in the middle. They will also hope that their hand-eye coordination does not desert them!
If the ban in India gets lifted in the next two weeks, comeback will be easier. However, if the ban is extended for another month, it becomes more difficult for all players!