Dubai: There was a buzz in the air at the ICC Academy in Dubai on Tuesday as Ricky Ponting, the Head Coach of Delhi Capitals, joined practice for the first time after completing his six-day quarantine period. Much like his playing days, ‘Punter’ was his busy self and managed to channelise that energy among the players too.
The former Australian captain and legendary batsman, who along with erstwhile mentor Sourav Ganguly helped the Delhi franchise turn a corner last year by making it to the play-offs after seven years, wanted his men to draw on the positives from that campaign.
“Last year, I had as much fun as I’ve ever had with a cricket team, and I want to make sure we can replicate that this season as well. I think it’s really important that when you have success, you understand why you have it. I’ll be banking on the guys we still have from last year - it’s important for them to remember the positives. If they can impose that on the younger and new guys in the team, before you know it, you’re going to have this really infectious attitude around the team again which is what I’m all about as a coach,” he said.
Speaking after a draining three-hour nets session, Ponting said the conditions were demanding but his team was happy to be back together. “The attitude from the start has been amazing, and today was no exception. It was hot and quite draining for the players but coming off on the back of a good season last year, you would expect the mood to be upbeat – and I was delighted to see that and it felt awesome to be back in the team environment, and I think there’s no better place than to be in the Delhi Capitals camp at the moment,” he said.
With the temperature hovering at 38 degrees now in the UAE and humidity taking it’s toll on the players, Ponting said it can be overcome by managing training sessions better, “We’ve got a smaller squad so I want to sort of manage our training sessions differently than we did last year. I’ve made it clear to the boys that we are not going to over-train in the first three weeks. I believe our preparation leading up to the first game is critical. I want to make sure that physically, technically and tactically the boys are peaking for the first game.”
“It is an unusual time we have got - having three weeks - I think we had slotted in about 20 training sessions before our first game, which in my opinion are too many, so we are just going to see how the boys are shaping up after every training session and then take it from there,” added the 45-year-old.
“With all the protocols involved, the teams that manage themselves the best throughout the tournament, I think will go a long way. What I mean by management is not managing the players, but managing our time as well and finding things and activities which we can do together as a group,” added Ponting, for whom it will be the third season with the Delhi team.
Commenting on the arrival of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane, the Australian great said the duo will add a lot of experience to the squad. “Both of them are class players, and have been long-term Indian players. Ashwin has been one of the most successful spinners in IPL history and Rahane has led Rajasthan for a long time as well. They have all sorts of skill, class and experience which they’ll add to our squad. We all know how important experience is in T20 cricket and we understand that. We’ve got a young captain in Shreyas, but to have those older, more experienced minds on the ground will help us a lot.”