Dubai: Like all other team sport during this period of lockdown, the UAE cricket team has also not been able to train together. It has been many days since they trained together at the ICC Academy indoor and outdoor grounds following the Stay at Home decision to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.
It was when the UAE team was about to embark on a tour of the United States of America to play in a tri-nation tournament involving hosts USA and Scotland that the COVID-19 threat put an end to all cricket activities around the world.
Speaking to Gulf News, Ahmed Raza, skipper of the UAE team, said: “We train through Zoom with our physical trainer Peter Kelley. He runs his sessions thrice a week on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 4.20 pm.”
The UAE team players are determined to remain fit and are also sharpening their techniques through training sessions. “We do our individual training at different times, but the team’s virtual training session with Kelly is done together,” noted Raza.
“All of us do our training in our homes. I made sure to remain active right from the time the lockdown came into effect. I watch a lot of videos on cricket and have been reading books too,” said Raza, who has clinched the honour of being the eighth-most economical bowler in T20 International history (among bowlers who have bowled a minimum of 500 deliveries).
Elaborating on the fitness training, Raza said: “Kelly’s short high-intensity training has been effective and all of us feel that it has helped us immensely. Over 30 cricketers join the session and work hard. Everyone is keen to ensure that by staying at home one does not gain weight. This is the time when we have to be careful with our diet too. Since we are not training as much as we did before the lockdown, we cannot eat as much as we were doing before.”
Raza feels that everyone has to be prepared for the period once normalcy returns to the world. “Due to the stoppage of cricket activities now, a lot of cricket could suddenly happen as soon as normalcy returns. We may not have the time to get back if we wait till everything starts. So we need to be smart and find ways to be ready. Everyone is aware of the challenges ahead but happy that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
“In June, the UAE were to play Papua New Guinea and Nepal in a series; but with cricket activities closed till June end, this series now stands cancelled. As per the schedule, we are to play in the Asia Cup qualification matches in Malaysia in August. We do not know whether this will be held now,” said Raza, who wants everyone to be careful despite easing of the lockdown here.
“The Government has eased the lockdown guidelines but we all need to act responsibly. We must avoid social gatherings as much as possible and stay safe till normalcy is returned. Although we miss training together at the ICC Academy, it is important that we stay safe. Only then will we be able to return stronger and fitter and deliver our best for the team in the coming matches,” believes Raza, who captained UAE to the title triumph in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Western Region T20 in his last international match before adhering to lockdown instructions.