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Agencies
March 29, 2020

Shastri hails Kohli’s role in improved fitness

Sports

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Agencies
March 29, 2020

NEW DELHI: Virat Kohli is the “boss” of the Indian team, who leads from the front, and his job as coach is only to take the “burden” off the captain, Ravi Shastri has said.

“The captain is the boss, I always believe that,” Shastri said on the Sky Sports Podcast, responding to a question from Nasser Hussain on the changing dynamics of coach and captain in world cricket. “The job of the coaching staff is to prepare the guys in the best possible way to get out there and play positive, brave, fearless cricket.

“The captain leads from the front. Yes, we are there to take off the burden – he’s not going to each player and talk to them, that’s my job; if you’ve got to pull someone up – but you leave him to do his job in the middle. The captain sets the tone and is encouraged to set the tone. In the middle, he controls the show. No coach in the world can do that.”

The Kohli-Shastri combine has carried India to the top in the Test cricket, and made them one of the top ODI teams in the world. The coach credits their success to improved fitness and fielding standards, with the skipper’s attitude at the heart of the change.

“When you talk about fitness, the leadership comes from the top and it came from Virat,” he said. “He is not a guy to mess around. He woke up one morning and said ‘if I want to play this game I want to be the fittest player in the world and compete against the best in all conditions’ and he let his body go through one hell of a lot.

“It was not just the training but the sacrifices he made with his diet, the way he looked at life. I could see that change happening all the time ... When he sets those standards, it rubs off on others.”

With cricket on hold as the world deals with a pandemic, Shastri chose to find positives in the unexpected time off. The break brought “welcome rest for the players”, he said.

“I could see towards the end of the New Zealand tour that the cracks were coming with mental fatigue, physical fitness and injuries. The amount of cricket we played over the last 10 months was beginning to take its toll.

“Guys like me and some of the support staff left India on May 23 for the World Cup in England and since then we’ve been home for just 10-11 days. There are certain players who have played all three formats of the game. Imagine the toll it takes ... It’s been tough.”