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Power Play in Cricket | Fitness with Chinmoy Roy

West Indies Chris Gayle in Training
West Indies Chris Gayle in Training

Feel the contrast. In the 80’s a Sunil Gavaskar would simply caress the red cherry fired by “Whispering Death” Michael Holding. Now a Chris Gayle muscles Trent Bolt with brute force.

That too in a test match. T-20 cricket has redefined how the willow has to be wielded. Remember the ODIs very much existed during Gavaskar’s era. And cricket all along remained a power sport.

Law makers were bang on. They coined the first 10 overs as “Power Play”. In physics power is defined as force applied with speed. Most of the cricketing actions are stop-start, short lived and the source of energy for those actions are ATP-CP, the energy system meant for power. The longest cricketing action often seen is a run of 3 (A run of 4 may rarely occur in Adelaide or Melbourne).

An international cricketer like Virat Kohli takes 9 seconds to run a 3. This ATP-CP energy source can sustain a work for a maximum of 10 seconds. Actions like whacking or throwing a ball, fast bowler hurling the ball, sprinting or diving are all actions belonging to this energy system.

Strength and conditioning book emphatically says that train a sport person according to the demand of the energy system. Therefore, cricket training should be heavily loaded towards power. Of course, you need to survive five full days. But you don’t run or jog continuously all five day. A fast bowler delivers in 3 seconds and if the batter hit it for a 3 then add 9 more seconds. So in 12 seconds the longest action finishes.

During 70’s and 80’s a Geoffrey Boycott or Greg Chappell would jog a few laps, do some stretches and then off for net. But training specificity advocates unless you practice sprinting you don’t improve on sprinting. Unless you lift weight you don’t get powerful. KG Rabada and Mitchel Starc both do clean and jerk, power clean – some of the Olympic lifts that produce power in their limb to hurl the ball at great speed.

Fact is, because the game wasn’t commercialised coaches and fitness coaches didn’t exist then. Exceptions like D.K. Lillee after suffering from injury trained under a fitness coach. There wasn’t a technical expert to convince the cricketers that they needed regimented training. Ideally a Gavaskar or Greg Chappell should have lifted weight and done their speed endurance. Had they done that their skill could have enhanced. They could have played longer. Only the Caribbean players like Gordon Greenidge, Vivian Richards, Michael Holding or Joel Garner, by virtue of a gifted gene could exhibit the power that most current generation cricketers do.

Virat Kohli, a great fitness icon runs 70 single at frenetic speed in an ODI. Dean Jones used to do that. A mere jab of Kohli catapults the ball in the stands. That’s purely the gift of power training. Training system in sync with the demand of the game has conditioned the cricketers in doing power based actions at breathtaking level. There is an enormous increase in the number of sixes hit. Fast bowlers are bowling at 150 clicks and great many cricketers are going air borne. One odd touch player like Hasim Amla or Rohit Sharma may exist but in general, modern cricket will witness power packed display bereft of silken David Gower touches.