NEW DELHI: Shreyas Iyers last three ODI knocks before the coronavirus outbreak brought the world to a standstill read 103, 52 and 62. Interestingly, all the knocks not just came on New Zealand soil, but also at the much-talked-about No.4 position in the Indian batting line-up. But the Mumbaikar doesnt wish to sit on past laurels and is already thinking of the route he will take to continue from where he left when live action resumes.
Speaking to IANS, the India batsman not only spoke about the mental aspect of returning to the crease, but also about how he has been coping with staying indoors in the lockdown, his opinion on whether bowlers should be allowed to use sweat or saliva to shine the ball and most importantly, his dream of breaking into the Indian Test team.
While Shreyas says he cannot wait for cricket to start, he also accepts that the road back to the international stage will not be easy and it will require a few sessions at the nets to not just bring back muscle memory, but also to get into the zone.
“Yes, we will need a few net sessions for sure to get the timing back (as a batsman) and also to get the muscle memory working. Will be holding the bat after a while also to have players standing around as you face bowlers bowling at 140kph, it will not be easy to come back into that zone and it will need a few training sessions as also the mental memory to settle down completely.
“It is not going to be easy, but at the same time we are professionals and we have played for so many years to reach this stage, so it will not take us very long. It will be a good challenge for us to overcome and get started with cricket,” he explains.
While international sportspersons across the globe have had varied opinions on getting back on the pitch, Shreyas feels that live cricket will also help the Indian public look forward to life in a positive way as cricket is a religion in the country.
“I would be very keen to go out and play because that is what I am waiting for. You do realise that cricket is a religion in this country and if we go out and play and it is there for people to view on television, it will be a huge positive as things will start moving towards normal and people will also be entertained,” he pointed.
He is only 25, but does it get irritating to be working regularly on his fitness (assigned by the Team India trainer and physio) even though there is no fixed date to a return to the ground? Shreyas says that it is a situation that one has never faced and it is important to stay in a positive frame of mind.
“It is tough being in such a situation (as an athlete) because we have never been in such a position. We have not been off cricket for this long ever, but then, if you keep a clear mindset and keep up with the routine, I don’t think it is going to take that long to get back into the zone.
“Yes, it has been very difficult and at times it is very frustrating as you have to be indoors due to the lockdown. Just trying to do some drills and activities to get away from the frustration and stay active. The idea is to make the videos and keep the people happy and entertained as it is very important that everyone stays home,” he said.
From fitness to new rules in the post-coronavirus world. Bowlers and pundits have had long deliberations on whether artificial substances should be allowed to help bowlers shine the ball if sweat and saliva isn’t allowed to be used. Shreyas decides to wear the captain’s hat and says that bowlers too need assistance.
“If we are starting, there shouldn’t be any restrictions. As a batsman, I look for the ball to be new and as a bowler you need the ball to swing so it is kind of equally important for both. And it will be the law making body’s decision and we will have to abide by that,” he said.
Interestingly, Australia pacer Pat Cummins in a recent interview for Kolkata Knight Riders had said that if the situation is such that applying saliva or sweat to a ball can lead to spread of coronavirus, cricket wouldn’t be starting in the first place. And Shreyas echoes the sentiments.
“Definitely, he is talking as a bowler. From the bowler’s perspective it is really important to swing the ball as I said. It is important to maintain the ball and if that isn’t there, then there would be no point of playing,” he said.
Finally, the longest format of the game. Having already cemented his place in the limited-overs unit with an ODI average of 49.86 and a T20I strike-rate of 129.50, is he ready for the longest format of the game? Shreyas says he cannot wait.
“Yes, I have always wanted to play Test cricket for India and my average in Ranji Trophy is pretty good to get selected. And I have been consistent throughout, so really looking forward to play in the Test team and cement my place there as well,” he signed off.