Sweating for more runs

On the ready The camp was all about strengthening sinews and taking a hard look at the forthcoming season

On the ready The camp was all about strengthening sinews and taking a hard look at the forthcoming season   | Photo Credit: PHOTOS: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.

A four-day fitness camp for batsmen was held at the National Cricket Academy as preparation for the season ahead

The word fitness buzzed around the National Cricket Academy (NCA) premises as batsmen sweated it out in the gym. The four-day fitness camp for batsmen that concluded on Tuesday was all about getting the willow-wielders fit and primed for the long season ahead. It starts with the tour of Ireland and England and then includes the Twenty20 World Cup at South Africa, home series against Pakistan and Australia before ending with a year-end tour Down Under for a face-off against Ricky Ponting’s men.

If reading the schedule tires you, then you could well imagine the stress that the players will undergo both physically and mentally as they criss-cross continents and time-zones for the rest of the year.

“We have a long schedule ahead and this camp was all about getting the players going for the season. I am happy with the way they have responded,” said Venkatesh Prasad, bowling coach.

The batsmen’s camp was preceded by a fitness camp for bowlers at the Infosys campus in Mysore. And like the Mysore camp, which was shrouded in secrecy, an impenetrable air hung around the batsmen’s camp too as the media waited in anticipation for some interaction with the players, which finally proved futile. The speculation over the coach’s position and the discussions over contracts left the players wary and the routine daily press conference was dispensed with. Prasad spoke in the end after much prodding.

The camp missed Sourav Ganguly, M.S. Dhoni, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh as the quartet were busy playing the Afro Asia Cup matches while Sachin Tendulkar joined after two days. An indisposed Wasim Jaffer stayed away. For the rest, ranging from the Dravid-Laxman duo to youngsters such as Rohit Sharma and Robin Uthappa, the camp was all about strengthening sinews and peering hard at the long season ahead. Seamer S. Sreesanth was a surprise addition to the camp. He was there for the first two days and it was Sreesanth’s way of making up for the two days that he missed in Mysore while playing in the Afro Asia Cup Twenty20 match.

Trainer Gregoy King guided the sessions and the accent was on strength and speed. “We have devised SAQ drills. When I say SAQ it means Speed, Agility and Quickness. These drills are function-specific and are new,” said trainer Ramji Srinivasan, who assisted King. The camp wasn’t about merely staying holed up in the gym. It was also about a bit of sprint and scoot behind the ball as a few fielding drills were done on the Chinnaswamy Stadium’s outfield.

“Fielding wasn’t part of the original plan but Robin Singh (fielding coach) and I thought of using it to break the monotony of physical conditioning,” Prasad said.

The camp-story doesn’t end here. Another four-day “cricket-skills” camp for the Indian team scheduled to tour Ireland and England, will be held this week. The bandwagon rolls on though a coach is still missing.


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