Having achieved the landmark of 100 international centuries, Sachin Tendulkar amazes everyone at practice, which have become more intense. In the last fortnight, on days when the Mumbai Indians haven’t trained, he has come to the nets alone. Some of the sessions have been at noon in searing heat.
Clearly, he’s determined not to finish his career with just 100 centuries. He’s a good bet to rattle off a few more, but his struggle for the landmark made it clear that fitness is one area he will need to work on harder.
His reflexes are still sharp, but it’s the endurance level that he needs to lift. During the Tests last year, there were many dismissals that indicated he was struggling to cope with batting after long hours on the field.
It suggested the concentration level was slipping as he failed to convert any of his fifties into a three-figure mark. It could be fatigue when the mind goes blank and the concentration level drops.
Former India physiotherapist, John Gloster, says: “Cricket is an endurance game. It is the key to all departments of the game. Physical endurance is directly related to mental endurance.
“For a batsman, you need a lot of endurance in the forearm muscles, which can be built with long hours in the nets; strong back muscles; running muscles which is achieved with shuttle running between a distance of 20-30 metres; and they need to do a lot of lunge and step up work.”
Tendulkar is also focussing on improving his athleticism. He can be seen doing quick strides these days, apart from his cricket skills training.
Sports physiotherapist, Heath Matthews, who has worked with India’s seasoned tennis players Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, says: “For senior athletes, you need to give them about 25% less load than the younger guys. For the same programme which a 25-year-old will complete in six weeks, a 35-year-old will need 12 weeks.
“For the older athletes, it’s about much less volume and more intensity. The emphasis has to be mainly on flexibility and balancing,” says Matthews.
“Running between the wickets is one area which becomes an issue as the speed and cardiovascular strength diminishes.”
For ageing players, stiffness is an issue. It is important the back, hips and shoulders are loose. “If your back is flexible, you can balance better. When the lower body becomes stiff, batsmen tend to play away from the body,” he adds.
“A sportsman of Tendulkar’s age will need a very good stretching regimen. He has to do 50% more stretching than a younger guy.” For cardio training, Gloster and Matthews recommend working out in a gym, which simulates high altitude training.