India captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri on Wednesday backed sending different teams on different tours to reduce cricketers’ physical and mental fatigue as well as expand the sport.
“With the kind of structure we are competing in, it is very difficult for the players to stay motivated and find the right kind of mental space for a long period. Being confined in one area, doing the [same] stuff day in and day out and dealing with high pressure situations,” Kohli said at press conference on the eve of the team’s departure to England.
“This will definitely become a norm for the future where apart from the workload, mental health side will also come into the picture big time because you don’t have an outlet at all in today’s day and age.”
Kohli, 32, said these days there is hardly any time to relax.
“You are literally going to the ground and coming back to the room and having no space where you can disconnect from the game like going out for a walk or a meal or a coffee and say ‘let me just refresh myself’ and ‘let me just get away from the game a little bit’,” he said.
Kohli, who is busy all the year round, said the Indian team management has allowed players to approach them and discuss fatigue to take a break.
“I think this is a huge factor which should not be neglected — because as much hard work as we have created this team [with], you don’t want players falling out because of mental pressure and not having the capacity and space to express themselves,” he said.
“There has to be a channel open which the management has left open for players to approach them and tell them, ‘look I am not feeling right in the head and I just need a little break and just want to disconnect from the game’. That is going to be a huge factor.”
While the India Test team will be busy in England, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is planning to send a limited-overs squad for the white-ball series in Sri Lanka in July. The details of the series haven’t been worked out, but the squad going to Sri Lanka will comprise several players who have represented India, like Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Hardik Pandya.
Coach Shastri too backed the idea of separate teams.
“At the moment, it is happening because of the current situation — restriction in travel and things of that sort. But you never know. In the future if you want to expand the game, especially in the shorter formats, then it could be the way to go,” he said.
The 59-year-old coach added: “When you have that much volume of cricketers and if you want to spread the T20 game across the globe then that could be the way ahead. If you are talking of Olympics in four years or eight years’ time then you need more countries to play the game. That could be a way forward.’
Shastri said that a break is needed, especially for mental health, since too many matches in too few days can destroy a player mentally.
India will play five Test matches in 42 days against England in August-September.
“When you have to play five Tests in six weeks, it is no joke. Even the fittest will need a break. More than the physical part, it is the mental part. You can be destroyed mentally being asked to do the same thing day in and day out and then asked to perform. It is not easy to recover especially if you had a bad day,” Shastri said.
“It is important to shuffle the guys around and keep them mentally fresh. It is not physical part but mental part because of the circumstance [demand] to win.”