It's been a busy few weeks at our High-Performance Training Centre in Nagpur, which is abuzz with our Director of Cricket Kumar Sangakkara and our new Assistant and Fast Bowling Coach Shane Bond spending time with the Royals as part of their off-season development programme.
At the Royals, our year-round camps are designed to focus on the continuous development of players, preparing them for their upcoming tournaments, whether at the domestic or international level. Apart from the physical training sessions in the nets, the aim is also to evaluate and strengthen their mental readiness.
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It has been a particularly interesting experience for the West Indian duo of Jason and Obed, who are visiting the High-Performance Training Centre for the first time. Incidentally, it was Big Jase's birthday during this period, and the Royals all-rounder was treated to a special birthday surprise by the coaching staff at the academy, making it an occasion to remember. On the other hand, Obed was spotted interacting with Bond, tirelessly working on his bowling in the sweltering Nagpur heat.
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The 26-year-old has had a tumultuous ride in the IPL, right from the time he first played for the Royals in 2022. An impressive debut season was followed by a disappointing one for the pacer, as he grappled with injuries that restricted his participation in IPL 2023. However, Obed's determination and willingness to tackle challenges head-on means he continues to work harder than ever on his form and fitness under the guidance of the Royals coaches and mentors.
We caught up with Obed for a quick chat on the sidelines, and he was kind enough to talk us through his journey so far and his plans ahead.
On the IPL 2023 season that saw him grappling with injuries...
It was a difficult season because just before the season I had made some changes to my run-up, and I feel like that brought my speed and accuracy down. The reason behind making the changes was the injury that I had picked up last year, which kept me away from cricket for a long time.
During the season I realised that it had been affecting my bowling, and I had to take the call of going back to what worked for me before. When you've grown up bowling a certain way, you can make small modifications to improve, but making significant changes is not easy, especially when you've done it your whole life.
On his recovery after the injury...
It was honestly the worst 9-10 months of my career, because it was the first time I had gone through something like that, and I was just not able to do any movements at all. I had to spend time recuperating from the operation, and then take it very slowly. It goes without saying that you struggle to stay fit and in shape if you are not able to work out. It made me miss a lot of cricket. When you look at the broader picture, as a professional player, it made me miss so much cricket for both the West Indies and at the franchise level including SA20.
When I was returning to cricket, I spent time working on strength and fitness, and I'm thankful to the Royals for providing me with all the support leading into the IPL 2023 season. From then on, it was all about getting back to my rhythm and contributing to the team.
On the off-season support from the Royals...
It has been one of the stand-out features for me. At home in the Windies, the facilities and technology being used are still being developed, but here in India, it is already at such a good level. With the Royals, I play in all three of their teams. And in the past couple of years, I've developed an amazing relationship with everyone here. To have this opportunity again to come to India in the off-season and train with coaches like Shane Bond and Kumar Sangakkara equips me with everything that a player can ask for.
On the facilities at the High-Performance Centre in Nagpur...
It's amazing to see our High-Performance Centre in Nagpur, and what it offers for me to be able to develop my skills. It is not just the physical or cricketing development, but we have a whole 360-degree facility where we can work on our mental aspects also.
On working with Shane Bond...
He's a legend! He was one of the greatest fast bowlers and he brings so much to the team. I've only just started working with him now in the camp, but every day we are aiming to work on certain aspects which can benefit me for both the Windies and the Royals.
On the challenges of the IPL and the way forward...
I think it's one of the toughest leagues to bowl in with the kind of wickets you get around the country, but these are the challenges that test you and improve you. I've also been able to learn so much working with all the coaches and the experienced players we have in the team. My focus now is to just keep working on getting back to my best and be ready for the next few tournaments which include England touring the West Indies.
(As told to Team Rajasthan Royals)