Just zoom on to cricket. M.S. Dhoni, simply can’t miss a la Christiano Ronaldo run before a cricket match. Call it Mr. Cool cooling the mind or whatever, but his feet licks for soccer. In fact, A.B. Deviller’s or Steve Smith from other international teams at times also show their soccer skills.
In his column Sunil Gavaskar once aptly mentioned about the obsession for football. He wondered if at all in any other sport the warm up is done with a different sport. Spot on. Bending it like Beckhum once in a while to ease the suffocating pressure of international cricket is fine. But making it a ritual is flirting with danger and defies scientific logic. Ankle twists happened many a times in the Indian team from soccer. Kicking and chipping the ball frequently bring about lower limb muscle tightness that can hinder movement in cricket.
Warm up is an important tool for sport. It is defined as a gentle activity that raises the heart rate, breaks a sweat, increases circulation in the working muscle, raises body temperature and so on. Stretches increases joint range of motion. In short it prepares the body for the intense activity ahead. Cricketers can psyche themselves during the warm-up. Matthew Hayden during warm-up used to sit on the crease and visualise how he would bat.
In ideal terms warm-up should be sports specific. It means the warm-up protocol should stick with the way the sport is to be played. For example if A.B. Devillier’s is going for a match then some dynamic stretches replicating the cricketing movements, few 22 yard sprints, some ground fielding and catching drills and batting skills – that should be an ideal warm up routine, specific to the game. Glen Mcgrath would fire a few balls on the spot to start his mental preparation. Cricketers start getting into their own zone during warm-up.
Now should one indulge in diluting this scientifically proven pattern with a game of soccer? Just to unwind. It’s a matter of debate. Some of the legends of the game like Ian Botham, Shane Warne, Virender Sehwag, M.S. Dhoni just don’t believe in warm-up.. There is some substance in their thought. Although both teams warm-up together in cricket only the fielding team and the two openers start the action. So the rest of the players literally go into cooling mode in the dressing room. We the fitness coaches had a debate on why having a warm-up before the toss. Nowadays those teams who are batting on day-2 don’t warm-up with full team. Ideas keep changing and warm-up is used judiciously these days to save energy.
Coming back to the addiction for soccer there can be a regulation that it will be played 5 times a month. Reduce its frequency. Rather than the captain choosing which sport to play better take opinion of the team. In the Greg Chappell era Indian team played Volleyball which is hand sport. Rugby or basketball are also hand sport. They can be explored too.
During my time with the Bengal Ranji Cricket team Rohan Gavaskar being a huge fan of Manchester United and captain Deep Dasgupta who too loved the game made soccer a compulsive warm-up tool. It became a lucky chum for the team. If successful international cricketers play soccer in pursuit of luck ignoring science then good luck to them.