Will fatigue be a big factor at the T20 World Cup? | Crickit
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Will fatigue be a big factor at the T20 World Cup?

By, Mumbai
May 28, 2024 10:49 PM IST

The players, who reported for the IPL ahead of the start on March 22, will now be on the road right up to the end of June in the World Cup.

After two months of non-stop cricket in the highly-demanding IPL, the international players head straight into the T20 World Cup. Managing fatigue is always a challenge for elite cricketers, this time even more so.

Indian cricket coach Rahul Dravid with players Rohit Sharma (captain) and Ravindra Jadeja before leaving for New York (PTI)
Indian cricket coach Rahul Dravid with players Rohit Sharma (captain) and Ravindra Jadeja before leaving for New York (PTI)

In their bid to freshen up their players, teams are trying various methods. The Australian players, who finished late in the IPL, have been given a mini-break to be with their families for a couple of days before joining the squad at the World Cup. It means for their two warm-up games that Australia are set to play against Namibia on Wednesday and the West Indies on Friday in Trinidad, it might have as few as eight players available and will need their support staff to fill-in as fielders. On the other hand, India has decided to send their team in two batches.

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So tight has been the schedule that there’s hardly any breathing space -- the IPL final was on May 26 and the World Cup kicks-off on June 2 with India playing its first game on the 5th. Playing back-to back big events can have both positives and negatives. The positive is that the team management doesn’t need to worry about the rhythm of the players while the challenge is to manage the fatigue factor which can set in after a long tournament.

More than the training and matches in the IPL what gets to the cricketers is the non-stop travel due to the home and away format of the 10-team league. The players, who reported for the IPL ahead of the start on March 22, will now be on the road right up to the end of June in the World Cup.

And it isn't just the India players who will face this challenge. Australia's captain Pat Cummins, pace ace Mitchell Starc and dashing opening batter Travis Head, South Africa's Aiden Markaram, Heinrich Klaasen, West Indies' Andre Russel and Shimron Hetmyer, were all involved right till the end of the tournament. Also, playing in searing heat and extreme humidity can take a toll physically as well.

Hence, heading into the World Cup, keeping their IPL stars mentally fresh will be the main task for the coaches and support staff.

Given the nature of their job, it is tougher for the bowlers. In his interview during the IPL, when asked how to deal with it, India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said they had their plans in place to handle the challenge.

“That’s a modern-day dilemma that every player will go through, one is the acceptance that you are going to play a lot of cricket in these times.," Mhambrey had said. "The skill part is taken care of, the workload is taken care of that’s great, (but) as you rightly said it is the mental bit to be able to understand where the person is. What is important is having that conversation with everyone, that’s what I will generally do, ‘okay tell me where are you right now in terms of what is your expectation, what do you want to do? The onus is on the individual, it starts from the individual himself. I want to do this, then as a support staff it is our job to help him.”

Vaibha Daga, the Head Sports Science and Rehabilitation, Kokilaben Hospital, Mumbai, who was with Lucknow Super Giants this season as their Consultant Sports Physiotherapy and Medicine, said the best recovery is to allow them "switch off completely for a week or 10 days and then report”.

He said there is going to be a challenge (to recover mentally), “that is why you need your close ones, family members, near you, who can give you that state mentally. The BCCI and I think other teams as well have allowed the families from the first day to travel with the players. It is an excellent idea to send the team in two batches. So that players who have finished late are going later so that they get enough time to recover mentally as well as physically."

Starc, the most expensive player in IPL history at R24.75 crore, however, played down the workload issue after starring in the IPL final.

“T20 is not as physically demanding as Test cricket and it’s been warm, humid, so that plays a part but that’s fine. It would be cooler there in the West Indies than here,” he said when asked how his body is holding up after two months of IPL.

There, of course, will also be the issue of peaking. Players like Starc and Virat Kohli were brilliant in the IPL. But can they sustain it for another month at the World Cup? Usually, players are known to plan their preparation in a way that they hit their peak during the World Cup. The Kolkata Knight Riders’ left-arm pacer hit top gear in the playoffs and the final while Royal Challegers Bengaluru legend Kohli played his best cricket in the second half of the league stage.

It remains to be seen whether can Kohli and Starc have enough energy left to make their mark at the World Cup. But for now, they will only be thinking about rest and recreation.

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