IPL 2020: We have to keep the players in a happy space, says Anil Kumble


Anil Kumble is happy that cricket action is finally set to resume with the Indian Premier League. Kumble, the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) head coach and director of cricket operations, is, however, aware of the challenges involved with the ‘new normal’ setting.

Quarantine, COVID-19 testing, isolation in a bubble, and a new standard operating procedure (SOP) is sure to take some getting used to. Having the vastly experienced Kumble by their side in this new environment is sure to benefit the KXIP squad. The former India captain spoke to the media on the sidelines of a training session for Karnataka players in the KXIP squad here on Friday.


Handling anxiety

Players are eager to get out and play. But you have to pull them back, because they haven’t played enough in recent times to go at 100 per cent from day one. You have to gradually build up their skill level and fitness, and ease them into match-readiness. The players will naturally ask themselves, ‘Am I ready to play?’. It takes time to get ready. The most important aspect we (coaching staff) must address is to help players cope with this anxiety.

Adapting to the post-COVID-19 times

All of us have been sitting around and not venturing out for the last four-six months. It has been a challenge. The good thing is that we now have an opportunity to play, in an environment which is safe. At best, we can only minimise the risk of infection. It’s new to all of us, but as sportsmen you tend to adapt to any situation.

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Challenges for players and coaches

For a player, the challenge is to get into the groove quickly and maintain it. Every team goes through ups and downs during the IPL season. It is a long tournament – you have to keep calm and not react to every good and bad result. Keeping a balance is key. With my experience, I will be able to help the players maintain that balance.

From the coach’s perspective, we have to manage living in the bubble, and ensuring player safety over a long duration. Sometimes, coaches have to egg them (players) on, as it is not easy to live in a bubble. We have to keep the players in a happy space.

On saliva ban

The saliva ban hasn’t affected Test matches; all recent Test matches have produced results. So I don’t see any reason why it should affect T20s. That said, to undo what you have been doing for a long time is not easy. Even when I used to bowl, my hand would go to the face. I have to keep an eye on it and tell the players to change their old habits.

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