The ICC has suggested teams would need to exercise caution over bowlers’ workloads to avoid a serious injury like stress fracture of the spine as players get ready to resume training after nearly 10 weeks in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With international teams set to return to play in a “condensed schedule”, the ICC has recommended bowlers would need minimum training periods ranging from 5 to 12 weeks – based on the format – to build the workload necessary for peak performance.
Following are the minimum preparation periods the ICC has recommended for bowlers returning to the three formats:
Test cricket: 8-12 weeks
ODIs: 6 weeks
T20Is: 5-6 weeks
On Thursday, England became the first major nation to restart training with 18 bowlers returning to individual training. England have approximately seven weeks to prepare for the three-Test series against West Indies, which is likely to start on July 8. The three Tests are scheduled to be played back-to-back with a three-day break between matches in bio-secure venues, and the ECB has said they may have to rotate their fast bowlers to get through a “pretty brutal” schedule.Stuart Broad has already trained twice at Trent Bridge, bowling five overs at a set of stumps on the outfield on Thursday and another six on Friday, when he said he was bowling at 70% intensity.
The ICC said “age and physical preparedness” are two key elements as players built their bowling loads. “Bowlers are at a particularly high risk of injury upon returning to play after a period of enforced time-out,” the ICC said on Monday while releasing a document titled ‘Guidelines for resumption of cricket’ which listed various dos and don’ts for cricket at the international, domestic and community level. “When looking at timescales, consideration needs to be given to the age and physical preparedness as this will influence the risk and length of time required to develop appropriate bowling loads that will allow a safe and effective return to international cricket.”
According to its research the ICC has said the bowler can see a “2% bone loss” in the spine if the player has been seven weeks in shutdown. “Evidence suggests long-term workloads over 1200 overs, older bowlers, > 24yrs and reducing spikes in load have some protective elements in relation to stress fractures, the most significant injury in relation to time-loss. However, these figures have not been seen in conditions where such an enforced period of lock down has been noted. Research suggests a seven-week period of shut down can see 2% bone loss in the spine that takes up to 24 weeks to replace.”
The ICC has advised team to travel with “larger” squads to not only compensate for the absence of net bowlers provided by the host country, but also to offset any injuries to the first-choice bowlers. “With the likelihood of a return to international cricket potentially resulting in a condensed schedule it will be necessary for countries to utilise larger squads to safely meet the performance demands imposed.”
As per the ICC’s suggestions, a bowler returning to T20Is would need a minimum of five to six weeks preparation with bowling at match intensity in the last three weeks. For ODIs, the preparation period recommended is a minimum six weeks, with the last three weeks involving bowling at match intensity. The Tests need the longest preparation period, with the ICC suggesting eight to 12 weeks, with the final four or five weeks devoted to bowling at match intensity.
As it happens, England’s bowling group comprising 13 fast bowlers, have just about seven weeks to get ready for the West Indies Test series. Jason Holder’s men will have even lesser time as they are expected to land a month before the first Test. The ECB are confident their plans, put together by their own team of medical professionals, are “more than sufficient”.
The ICC pointed out those periods “would be dependent on the bowler having been able to undertake regular running and some bowling drills whilst in lockdown. “These are dependent on a multifactorial assessment with age of bowlers, injury history, bowling technique and speed and lifetime overs, amongst others. Bowling loads therefore need to be developed progressively, with adequate rest built into a return programme and based on match intensity overs per week.”
Sri Lanka’s 13-man squad to begin training on Monday
Sri Lanka Cricket will go ahead with plans for a 13-man squad of players to begin training on Monday, despite a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 infections in the country over the past few weeks.
The players will essentially put themselves and four support staff in a bubble, over the course of the 12-day “residential training camp” at the Colombo Cricket Club. The squad, which largely comprises of bowlers, will stay at a nearby hotel, and “will not be allowed to leave the hotel premises or the practice venue to attend personal matters” according to an SLC release.
Although 531 new Covid-19 patients had been identified in Sri Lanka since May 24, those new cases are believed to be almost entirely from quarantine centres from around the country, with recent returnees from the Middle East comprising the majority of patients. In general, the Sri Lanka government has indicated that the spread of the virus is under control, and has so far avoided reimposing the strict, extended curfews seen through April and the early part of May.
The government is also understood to be supporting this resumption of training.
“Health officials already visited the hotel and the practice venue, and provided health guidelines to the staff members of the respective venues to follow,” the board release said.
Among those who will start training are quicks Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara, as well as spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Lasith Embuldeniya. Kusal Perera and Danushka Gunathilaka have also been included in this squad. Head coach Mickey Arthur and batting coach Grant Flower – both of whom have been in Sri Lanka through the duration of the viral outbreak – are among the support staff.
SLC had hoped international cricket could begin on the island in late June or early July, but India – the team that is due to visit next – has not confirmed the tour.
Virat Kohli: MS Dhoni played a big role in my becoming captain
Kohli took over as the full-time Test captain when Dhoni retired from the format midway through India’s tour of Australia in 2014-15, and later became captain across formats when Dhoni quit his limited-overs post in early 2017.
Kohli said the process was a gradual one of “earning trust” over several years.
“I was always inclined towards taking responsibility,” Kohli said of his early days in the India dressing room, during an Instagram chat with team-mate R Ashwin. “After that it was all about just wanting to play, wanting to be in the XI regularly. I didn’t play all the games, but I wanted to be discussed, that ‘whether this guy is good enough to play or not.’ That is a transition that slowly happens.
“Then with your interest in the game you start talking to the captain regularly. I was always in MS’s ear, standing next to him, saying, ‘We can do this, we can do that.’ He would deny a lot of things but he would discuss a lot of things as well. I think he got a lot of confidence that I can do this after him.
“A large portion of me becoming captain was also to do with him observing me for a long period of time. It can’t just happen that he goes and the selectors say, ‘Okay you become captain.’ Obviously the guy who is there takes responsibility and says, ‘Okay I think this is the next guy. I will tell you how it is going.’ And then slowly that transition is formed. He played a big role in that, and that trust you have to build over six-seven years. It doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process.”
Kohli was first appointed vice-captain for the 2012 Asia Cup, which followed India’s tour of Australia for a Test series and a tri-series in 2011-12. In a tour that otherwise went poorly for India, who were blanked 4-0 in the Tests and failed to reach the tri-series final, Kohli emerged with distinction. He scored his maiden Test century in the fourth match at Adelaide, becoming the only India batsman to reach three figures in that series. In the ODIs, he made his then highest score in the format , smashing 133* off just 86 balls as India chased down a target of 321 in 36.4 overs to keep their hopes of making the final alive.
Kohli said that tour helped him become aware of his game and hone it significantly. “I remember that whole season,” he said. “It was from that Test hundred in Adelaide to continuously stringing scores. That was a phase of six to eight months where I really realised a lot about my own game and came into my own as far as my skills were concerned.
“I was very competitive but I wasn’t very sure or in control of what I wanted to do before. When you come in new, you’re still figuring out how to go about it. At the international stage you want to be feared, you want to be respected. You don’t want to walk in and hear, ‘He’s one of the youngsters, we’ll just knock him over.’ We all play for that. That was a phase where I started to realise this.”
In the Asia Cup that followed, Kohli made 183 in another tall chase, against Pakistan. He revealed that during this knock, he had negated the threat posed by Saeed Ajmal by treating the offspinner as if he were a legspinner.
“I told myself I’m going to start playing him like a legspinner,” Kohli said. “Because his doosra was quite difficult to face and his offspinner was not that lethal. So I said I’m going to try and hit him over cover consistently, and it just paid off. As soon as I negated his doosra, the potency of his threat became lesser and lesser.
“In that game I scored most of my runs against him through the off side [29 off 10 balls on the off side and 7 off 7 on the leg side]. My only aim was I’m going to make him unsettled with his doosra. He should fear bowling the doosrato me, then I’m on top of my game.”
Rohit Sharma nominated for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award
The BCCI has nominated Rohit Sharma for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, India’s highest sporting honour. The board has also nominated India fast bowler Ishant Sharma, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and India woman allrounder Deepti Sharma for the Arjuna award.
Rohit’s Khel Ratna nomination comes on the back of an outstanding 2019 with the bat: 556 runs at an average of 92.66 in five Test matches, all while opening the batting for the first time; and 1657 ODI runs at 57.30, including the unprecedented feat of five centuries at a single World Cup.
If Rohit wins the award, he will become only the fourth cricketer, after Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, to do so.
“We went through a lot of data and considered various parameters before shortlisting the nominees,” Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president, said via a media release. “Rohit Sharma has set new benchmarks as a batsman and achieved scores people thought were not possible in the shorter formats of the game. We feel he is worthy of getting the prestigious Khel Ratna award for his commitment, conduct, consistency and his leadership skills.
“Ishant Sharma is the most senior member of the Test squad and his contribution has been vital in Indian team’s long run as the No. 1 Test side. Fast bowlers are prone to injuries and Ishant has had a fair share of them but he has fought hard to be back on the park every time. Shikhar has been consistently scoring at the top and his performances in the ICC events have been significant. Deepti is a genuine allrounder and her contribution to the team has been vital.”
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