How bowling coach Arun had to fight to introduce workload management | Cricket News
It's no secret that Virat Kohli had laid emphasis on forming an out-and-out quick attack ever since he assumed full-time Test captaincy in 2015. But the process to build a strong foundation for a pool of fast bowlers began before that when bowling coach Bharat Arun was working at the National Cricket Academy more than a decade ago.
Finding and grooming pace bowlers is one aspect of coaching but making sure they sustain over a period is the harder part. In such a scenario, workload management has become the game-changer which has seen India picking up 20 wickets consistently over the last three years.
"I first started talking about workload management when I was at the NCA. I had read a lot on biomechanics, and I was convinced this was the right way to go about it. A fast bowler does things going against the very grain of the human body. To bowl fast for 15–20 overs a day is not something the human body is used to. As a result, you need to give the body rest to be able to do things best consistently. If you don't, you will end up over-exerting and that might cause injury and stress," Arun is quoted as saying in the book Mission Domination written by Boria Majumdar and Kushan Sarkar published by Simon Schuster.
The idea of workload management wasn't easy to introduce into the system of Indian cricket. "We had done a detailed study and had presented our findings to Sanjay Jagdale, then secretary of BCCI. Jagdale, I have to say, was very enthusiastic and had bought into our theory. He had offered full support and asked us to go ahead and implement the plan. However, he left in a few months and the project turned into a non-starter. While in the NCA we realised that it was very difficult to get every stakeholder in the BCCI to agree and come on the same platform. And unless everyone agreed, you will never get a sign off on a project like this," Arun added.
"Things changed when I was appointed the bowling coach of the national team. Ravi (Shastri) was the head coach and when we presented our plan to Ravi and requested his support, it all fell in place. Ravi was convinced and said to us clearly that as coaches of the Indian national team it was upon us to chart out a roadmap for Indian cricket. No bureaucracy could delay things, and we were empowered to take decisions. He also reminded us that with power came accountability. Whatever we did, we needed to be accountable for our actions, for it could impact the future of Indian cricket."
It was now time to get the senior bowlers to come around. Ishant Sharma had already played six years of international cricket. It was Arun's big test.
"I remember going up to Ishant and telling him that for years he had followed what he believed in. All I wanted him to do was follow me for a few days. If things did not work out he could very well go back to doing what he knew best. Ishant could see it wasn't an imposition. Rather, it was a sensible request and he found no reason to not try out what we were suggesting. Within a few days he had bought into the idea. He came up to me and said he was feeling a lot more fresh and energetic going into matches if he hadn't bowled much on the previous day. It was a big breakthrough to have your senior bowler agree to what you had been envisaging for a while. Within months each of the bowlers had agreed to workload management and now if you go and ask each one of them they will tell you it is their bible," Arun claimed.
August 17, 2021, 1:00 pm