Team India’s fielding coach Sridhar says that cricket news will have to start with catching tennis ball

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CHENNAI: Team India’s next assignment may be a few months away but the team’s fielding coach R Sridhar is making sure the players are physically and mentally well placed during the lockdown.

In a conversation with TOI, Sridhar spoke on offering specific exercises for players when it might take time for players to be match-fit once the lockdown eases and exceeds.
Excerpts:

How did you stay in touch with the players during the lockdown?

I have been talking to them regularly for the past few weeks and making sure that they get their fitness programs. We have to take a date from the Government of India or the BCCI and only then can we start our work. Until then, we will ensure that the players are in good shape mentally and physically.

After being away for so long, what should the fielders focus on once they return?

As far as catching is concerned, once we are back I will start giving them some tennis balls as they will not have practiced for a long time (12-14 weeks). Suddenly, I want their hands not to hurt. I will slowly catch them with a semi-rigid ball, which is lighter than a cricket ball. Once they get used to it for a few days, we will graduate on the cricket ball. When it comes to throwing and fielding exercises, we will gradually increase the workload as a sudden spike can cause injury.

Have you given specific practice to the players so that they do not rust?

Yes, some players can be locked up inside an apartment and some can be kept in a farmhouse. Based on the space they have and the equipment they have, we have given them practice.

How many weeks will it take for the players to fit the match after starting training?

As far as the fielding portion is concerned, it will take at least 3-4 weeks to prepare the match. For bowlers it will be much more than that. The workload for the players will have to be gradually lifted.

How do you see the saliva ban working?

The ban on saliva would be huge and Jimmy Anderson recently mentioned something. I think our bowling coach B Arun will look at that aspect and see what can be done. He is probably the right man to answer that question.

Going forward, what do you think will be the next phase in Indian fielding?

When we started, we wanted me to be 11 top fielders and one of the best fielders in the world. Down the road, we achieved until the 2019 World Cup because we were probably the best fielding team. In the last 6-8 months we have reduced slightly due to various reasons but we will improve once again. The goal is to reduce the number of bad days on all days and increase the number of good days.

Who has been the best fielder?

Let’s start from the top. Virat Kohli was a great outfielder, but now he is a much improved slip fielder. Virat has worked hard on his slip catching skills. Rohit is another player who has improved his slip fielding skills and is very reliable in this area. Yuzvendra Chahal has improved a lot as he puts his heart and soul into it. Jaspreet Bumrah and Kedar Jadhav are the other players who have improved in leaps and bounds when they first came into the team.

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