The Twenty20 Cricket World Cup is now a thing of the past, seeming to have departed as quickly as it came, and as rapidly as a ball off Yuvraj's bat over a mid-wicket boundary.
The game continues to battle its way through the complexity of what this new and (potentially) improved version of the game offers. Recently, Malcolm Speed, Chief Executive of the International Cricket Council, declared that "We have a problem of fitting Twenty20 into the international calendar". This is of course true, there's too much cricket being played these days - the subject of our article further below. The point, however, is that Twenty20 offers a way to ease the congestion by reducing demands on players. More importantly, the ICC may face a problem of getting enough money to fund the game, if the market demand for the 20 over game reaches levels that detract from the 50-over game. It's a delicate problem, and the ICC hardly inspire confidence that they will handle it correctly.
In other cricket related news, before we get onto the main part of this post, the Indian Sports council face a difficult situation themselves. The Indian Cricket Board showered their victorius Indian cricketers with rewards valued at $3 million, including a Porsche for one player, houses for all of the them and massive financial rewards.
This did not go down too well with the Indian hockey team, who received virtually nothing after winning the Asian Hockey title a few months earlier. They protested this disparity in recognition and reward, since they perhaps wanted a Porsche or two themselves. They also claimed that they "were not jealous" but were "very proud of the Indian cricketers". So proud, in fact, that they threatened a hunger strike! I'm not entirely sure what the outcome of this was (or will be), but can you imagine if every NBA team and every NFL Quarterback refused to play or eat because he wasn't on the same salary package as the highest paid coach or player - world sport would be bankrupt!
The world game from a coach's point of view
The quote referred to earlier, from Malcolm Speed, suggests that the game's calendar presents one of the biggest problems for cricket coaches and managers. The calendar is simply too congested to allow Twenty20 matches, let alone proper physical preparation. In line with that, today we feature a guest post, from David Hinchcliffe, who runs the Harrowdrive cricket website. This site is an excellent resource for cricket coaching tips, drills and practice sessions and insights into the psychology and physiology of cricket - if you're involved in the game, be it as a player or a coach, it's a must read!
But David wrote the following piece on the preparation of cricketers. It is a general piece describing the implications of calendar congestion on the coaches and players of the modern game. According to David, the lack of time means that the 'correct' method of planning training goes out the window and so the risk of injury and burnout are much greater. David writes the following:
The traditional methods of creating a planned, periodised structure to training can't be applied any longer because there is no longer a defined off-season and no peak to work towards. On top of this, more players get injured or fatigued so squads need to be larger than ever. More players need to be at their peak for longer. However, nobody can peak all the time.
Due to this, support staff like strength and conditioning coaches have been forced to take a new approach in the fitness of international cricketers. The principles remain the same – accumulating fitness over time through progressive overload, specificity and adequate recovery. What has changed is the planning.
A good coach analyses what a player needs on an individual basis and builds a plan built on all the components needed for an elite performer – work capacity, strength, power, speed and mobility. A yearly (or longer) plan can then be split into 'blocks' of weeks where each component becomes the focus.
This way the whole year can be used to develop fitness without it impacting on a players game. That is where I consider the real art of a coach lies: Being able to prioritise fitness needs and fit complex training or recovery around games. This is especially true in test match series were players could be on the field for two days or equally be at a loose end for two days. The training would look very different in both circumstances.
This means planning needs to be less like a detailed blueprint and more like a general roadmap. Whether a player is successful or not may in part be dependant on whether the coach has been successful in his plan.
You can read more about the details and specifics of the training programme at Harrowdrive!