Cricket teams warming up for practice with a round of football or rugby is a common sight. Indians have been doing the same for a long time now, but, under Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton, there have been some innovations too.
On Thursday at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, MS Dhoni's men turned up in full strength and, on either side of a football game, underwent two unique drills. Upton, the mental and physical conditioning coach, explained the rules to the players, and the fun began.
The players split into groups of three and took position in front of three buckets. Two players stood behind each set of buckets, and threw tennis balls gently towards those standing in front, within a radius of about 10 feet.
The players standing in front had to pick up the balls quickly and throw them into the buckets. Each session lasted two minutes, and the group of players, which put maximum balls in the bucket, won the game.
After about half-an-hour of football, came the other drill. The rules were the same as in football, but here they used a cricket ball instead, which had to be rolled underarm. The players seemed to enjoy every bit of it and Sachin Tendulkar drew applause for making a few diving interceptions.
“The idea is to have fun and do something different from regular practice,” Upton told HT. “There’s a mental and physical aspect to it. It helps players to do something new physically and also makes them think differently. The idea is to help them think out of the box.”
The South African explained such drills become more important during a long competition like the World Cup where there’s a long gap between matches. “Regular batting and bowling sessions can lead to monotony. These drills break the boredom and keep the group together too.”
The players seemed energised after these sessions as they had full-fledged nets for close to three hours at the National Cricket Academy complex.