The lockdown which initially began on 25 March 2020 has affected us all in a variety of ways. Being confined to our homes for days on end is difficult and challenging for us civilians, but how is it affecting our cricketers? How are they coping and what can be the potential effects of the lockdown on them? First of the three main aspects to be considered here is physical fitness, especially weight management. With initiation of lockdown, places of public gathering such as gyms have been closed and hence, we have had to look at other ways of remaining physically fit. To circumvent this issue, cricketers have been given customised bodyweight workouts which they can do in the confines of their homes. I believe that by following such workouts, it will be possible for cricketers to prevent weight gain which some of us have experienced post lockdown. The second aspect is mental fitness. Everyone was eagerly looking forward to the IPL this year. It had special significance for players like Yashasvi Jaiswal, who was signed for Rs 2.4 crore by the Rajasthan Royals. After some stellar performances in the recent Under-19 World Cup, the IPL was the opportunity for Yashasvi to showcase his skills to the world and possibly stake claim for a spot in the senior Indian team.
So, it would be natural for him to feel disappointed and dejected at the suspension of the IPL this year. Here, it is vital that all cricketers, especially those who are at crucial stages in their careers be in touch with psychologists who can guide them with their emotions. The lockdown has shown us how important mental health is for everyone and now is the right time for us to eliminate the stigma surrounding the same. The brain is like any other part of the body and at times, it can get unwell. In times like this, one should contact mental health practitioners and follow their advice to get back on track. The third and possibly most important aspect is motor skills. Cricket is an outdoor game and net practice is vital. With players not having access to nets because of lockdown, there is a good chance there may be temporary decline in motor skills, especially for the fast bowlers. While they can do visualisation of match scenarios, there is a possibility that the competitive spirit may dip as well.
To conclude, I would like to bring your attention to something similar that happened in the sport of boxing when the great Muhammad Ali was banned due his refusal to get inducted in the United States Armed Forces to fight in Vietnam. Due to the ban, he did not fight a professional bout from March 1967 to October 1970, when he would have been at his physical peak. When he resumed, it has been universally agreed that his skills and reflexes had declined. So, we must similarly be prepared to see a decline in the skills of our cricketers when cricket resumes. I believe that we must not rush our cricketers into international tournaments. They must first play a full season of domestic cricket and only then restart playing for the national team. While we would like to see our cricketers in action at the earliest, it is important to realise that they too are humans and it is possible that time off the field has taken a toll on their bodies. Hence, considering the above facts, I also believe that it is vital that the ICC redraws the Future Tour Programme to ensure that we get to see top class cricket from athletes at the peak of their powers.