India's fielding coach R Sridhar says a four-phased training module is being prepared for the country's elite cricketers, who can attain peak match fitness with four to six weeks of training once the camp gets the go-ahead to start.
Sridhar, who has been an integral part of the Indian cricket set-up since 2014, spoke to PTI on how the Virat Kohlis, Rohit Sharmas and Jasprit Bumrahs will be training to get ready for the rigours of international cricket when the ball starts rolling again amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think if you have a camp for 4-6 weeks, we can bring them to peak match readiness...fast bowler needs around 6 weeks, batsmen might take a bit less time," Sridhar said.
"Once we get a date (on start of national camp) from the BCCI and approved by the government of India, we can start working backwards (starting from scratch). The challenge is to proceed in right phases as players can get excited when they play after 14 or 15 weeks.
"It's pertinent that we move in right manner forward. Don't want to look too much ahead," he explained. Sridhar stressed on workload management and warned that pushing too hard would only cause injuries.
"Initially, we have to give them progressive workload. You can't have a sudden spike in workload which could lead to injuries," said the former Hyderabad left-arm spinner.
The coach then explained how they can go about it.
"First phase, it will be 'low volume-low intensity', followed by 'moderate volume-low intensity', 'high volume-moderate intensity' and then starts 'high volume-high intensity' training. This is how we will go," he said.
And what will constitute low-volume-low intensity training? Sridhar said it would vary.
"May be the fast bowlers will bowl two overs from half or quarter run-up. The deliveries will be bowled at 20 or 30 percent intensity. For a fielder, it will be at the maximum, six throws over 10 metres or 6 throws over 20 metres at 40 to 50 per cent intensity.
"For a batsman, it will start with five to six minutes of batting against moderate pace bowling," he explained.
"For catchers, it will start with semi-soft balls, intensity will be slow and volumes will be less. Then we can slowly pick it up as we cross one phase after another," he said.
It will be around the fourth week that match-intensity training will start and then slowly, the players will enter the zone where they get match ready.
"We can't do same training every day as we start with low volume-low intensity training. Once we get to the fourth week when high volume-high intensity training starts, the hands will get used to hard balls coming at 140km an hour, 130km an hour, that's when match-training will start.
"The sharpest minds will take six weeks to get into Test match mode," the 49-year-old opined.
He agreed that duration of getting into peak match readiness physically and mentally will vary from player to player but the aim for the coaches will be to have everyone on the same page when the camp ends.
"Definitely, there would be different intensity level, (it will vary) from player to player. That's what the sport is all about. Each player has to be different. We understand that. Each one will take slightly different time to get into the peak readiness.
"Someone will do it 4 weeks and some one will take 3 to 4 days more or there may be someone who may take 3-4 sessions more. We respect that. As coaches, our job is to get everybody on the same page at the end of the camp."
As of now, each of the centrally contracted players are following a fitness programme given to them by senior team's Strength and Conditioning coach Nick Webb.
"Each player is being taken care of in terms of where they are, what equipment they have. Fitness programmes are being monitored every week by head Strength and Conditioning coach Nick Webb, and team at NCA as well. They are being monitored on given programmes."
Sridhar has been instrumental in bringing innovation in the Indian team's fielding practice and he does have a "few things on his mind".
"I am still working on it. There are few things on my mind and when we go back and start the camp, basically my mind is working on how to plan the sessions once we get back.
"In a phased manner, we will incorporate a lot of drills, external props would be used to increase their reflexes, reaction drills, deviation methods, all those things, I have a few things and once the camp starts, it will be there for everyone to see," he said.
However, the innovations will be specific to the needs of the elite group. "We will be more realistic as to what elite level cricketers need, we will make innovations that are pertinent to our plans," he concluded.
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