Gary Kirsten said players need to know that for the next 50-odd days RCB is priority © BCCI
All the chatter leading upto the Indian Premier League 2019 has mainly been centered around workload and fatigue given the impending World Cup that succeeds it. While different cricket boards have chosen to deal with the issue in their own ways, with overseas players even heading back midway through the season, Indian skipper Virat Kohli had said it was up to the players, individually, to take a call and keep a watch on themselves and how they feel physically.
However, Ashish Nehra, the bowling coach of the Royal Challengers Bangalore belongs to the school of thought that believes: the more you play, the better you will get.
“I am a firm believer, not only as a fast bowler, but even as a cricketer, that the more you play, you will get better,” said Nehra in Bangalore on Saturday (March 16). “If a player is saying that ‘I’m feeling fatigued and I’m feeling tired and I need a break for two games’, then so be it. That’s why you need good back up. I got injured in World Cup semifinal and after that I didn’t play the IPL. This debate will always be there – country first or club first. Here you have a responsibility to the franchise also.
“If somebody tells Virat Kohli that you are not playing this IPL, come fresh for the World Cup, I don’t think it’s the right way. If he’s only practising, that practice is different. But IPL is a pressure tournament, it is as good as international cricket, that’s why everybody wants to play… so you are going to the World Cup through that pressure. If I’m a bowler, I keep bowling yorkers or keep bowling good length balls, I have to do the same thing in the World Cup. But if I’m sitting at home, and have not played cricket for six weeks, and some xyz is going to think I’m going to deliver in the World Cup, it’s wrong.”
Between the end of the IPL and India’s first game at the World Cup against South Africa [without taking practice match into consideration], are three weeks, which is ample time to rest and recover, according to Nehra, who also believes that active recovery is key in order to be match ready.
“If you’re not injured, three weeks is enough time. If someone tells me, ‘you bowl in the IPL final today and then for the next three weeks you don’t bowl, and then bowl straight away against South Africa’, I would not like to do that. Active rest is very important for anyone. Doesn’t matter how tired Virat Kohli is…he might stay away from the nets for maybe a week, or 10 days at most. The last 11 days, he wants to have 7-8 sessions. So in the end it’s all about how the individual is feeling.
“The more you play the better you get. I can understand if the IPL final is on the 12th and the first World Cup game is on the 16th, then you might feel Bumrah or Bhuvneshwar or Shami…they have played 10-11 IPL games and they are not comfortable. Some bowlers may come up to me and say, we are fresh, the more we play the better we feel. Some won’t say that. Everyone is different. As the tournament progresses, we will see.”
Gary Kirsten, the RCB head coach backed Nehra, saying: “We are not looking at this tournament as preparation for the World Cup.” However, he added that playing in a pressure tournament like the IPL, will only be an advantage for the Indian players.
“We do understand that all the international players apart from the Indians are called back to their internationals teams through the IPL. We have to accept that. There’s not much we can do about it, but we would certainly want to get the best out of every player. It’s also an advantage to the Indian players, actually. Because IPL is such a pressurized tournament, it’s great preparation for the World Cup.
“We’ve both played international cricket, we understand the demands that an international player has. We’ll be very reasonable in that space. Ultimately every player needs to know that their priority over the next 50-odd days is RCB. Ashish has made a good point: if you get yourself match-ready during the IPL, that’s going to hold you in really good stead during the World Cup.”