The first important tour of India by a team from outside Asia can be fraught with concerns. Some are cricket related like whether they have enough spinners or how they would adapt to facing capacity crowds in stadiums. Others are obvious ones like adjusting to the food, hotels and hectic travelling. Nothing however beats the most obvious of them --- coping with the Indian summer.
Over a decade ago, the touring Australians found an innovative way to beat the heat by wearing ice vests beneath their shirts. Now with the World Twenty20 only a few days away, Scotland have taken to hot yoga to brace for the onslaught. Their apprehension is understandable. The Scots have toured UAE or Sri Lanka but never India. Since this would be their first time here, they are not leaving anything to chance.
“The team has been preparing for India with a tour to Hong Kong and UAE. Off the field they are doing Pilates and hot yoga,” wrote Ben Fox, Scotland’s communications manager, to HT via email.
A form of yoga practiced in a studio artificially heated to 40 degrees and humidity of around 40%, made popular by yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, hot yoga is used to increase stamina in conditions similar to India. It explains the haste with which Cricket Scotland employed a yoga studio to start preparations for the WT20. “They opened in August and we began talking to them in September,” said Fox. “The climate here is not ideal,” he said. Temperature in Glasgow, from where the team will depart for India on Monday, is hovering between one and six degrees.
With India emerging the top cricket destination, thanks to the IPL, things like accommodation and cuisine don’t seem to be a big worry anymore. “We know which hotels we will be staying in and they all seem very nice,” said Simon Smith, the team’s strength and conditioning coach.
Emphasis though is on readying the players for the summer. “Sometimes five or six attend together before going for cricket. Sometimes a player attends a yoga session alone first thing in the morning. There were squad sessions in the four days prior to departure for the Hong Kong tour, and top-up sessions during this window before departure for the WT20,” said Fox.
“It’s something we’d been looking into for a while as a non-cricket activity which would provide variety to the training week and present some potentially positive transfer into our performance due to mobility, stability, posture, concentration, composure and of course heat acclimatisation benefits,” he said.