With the IPL auctions, schedules and other administrative activities being finalised, cricket is now foremost in the minds of the Rajasthan Royals franchise. Having been away for two years has resulted in a feeling among them that they need to take giant steps to get back into their groove. Time, is precious and the paucity of it has made them begin their first training camp well ahead of the others. There was an air of nostalgia when they began their IPL 2018 campaign, as one can term it, “Quickly off the block”. The players assembled all anxious and excited like students on their first day of school.
The practice venue to start the RR’s IPL 2018 was the Cricket Club of India (CCI) in Mumbai. The club ground is one of the most historical cricket venues of India. This is where the greatest of great cricketers have played. When stepping into the well-maintained turf of the CCI, there is a feeling that a cricketer gets, similar to the attraction and power like when one visits a place of worship. The mecca of Indian cricket, as CCI was always referred to, was just the right place to infuse the culture and values of RR amongst its players. An ideal venue to start a cricket journey.
Rajasthan cricket has always had a very close relationship with the CCI. The late Rajsingh from the erstwhile state of Dungarpur in Rajasthan, was the President of the club for several years. He not only played for Rajasthan but also brought in the Rajputana touch of royalty and class.
The Head of Cricket for RR, Zubin Bharucha, along with his support staff initiated the session with a talk on the cultural aspect and aims and aspirations of RR. Ajinkya Rahane, the Indian Vice Captain and a RR stalwart, gave a talk on his experiences with the franchise and the work ethics and dedication that one needs to put in to be successful.
The RR bunch of cricketers are reasonably familiar with one another, as most of them have played with or against each other in the domestic cricket circuit. The youngsters did have a few butterflies to start with but that soon disappeared when they were put through a gruelling session of exercises and a few games of cricket.
The main concept to begin with was to give the batsmen and bowlers a drill, simulating the different possible situations that they could confront in a match. An example of this would be for a batsman to hit a four or a six on every second ball. The one enjoying this to the hilt was the young, dashing Indian International player from Kerala, Sanju Samson, who batted for 3 hours at a stretch. The determination, concentration and fitness that he exuded must have influenced all the other batsmen as well. On the other hand, the bowlers needed to ensure that they bowled deliveries that could be difficult for a batter to score off. Several match situations for batsmen and bowlers were put forth to get the players to understand exactly what they may face in actual conditions. This is only possible because RR has a well-structured analytical tool that interestingly churns out data which is unbelievably accurate and informative.
Fielding and catching was not something that was forgotten either. Plenty of catches at all distances were a must for one and all. Fielding in the 30 yards and in the deep in the 20-20 format requires greater speed, agility and quick thinking. Players were relentlessly put through this regime.
The wonderful aspect of the camp was the seriousness and the desire to enhance their skills which one saw in all the players. They all know how important it is for them to do well in the IPL. Watching each one of them sweating and practicing, reminded me of one of the famous song by Whitney Houston in the 1988 Olympic games, “give me one moment of time”. A moment that each one of them must be aspiring and perspiring for, to give a starry performance.
About the author:
Yajurvindra Singh is a former cricketer who represented India between 1977 and 1979. He enjoys the unique distinction of achieving 2 world records – 5 catches in an innings, and 7 catches in a match - on his debut.
Disclaimer: Please note that the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Rajasthan Royals or its management.