The turnaround between the last day of the IPL and the first of the Champions Trophy is a little over a week. To some that might suggest the players flying out from India to England would have sufficient match practice ahead of an important world tournament. Shane Bond, the former New Zealand fast bowler, believes otherwise.
In his column on the ICC website, he reasons that the fundamental differences between T20s and ODIs, including the highly specific training needed to prepare for the shortest format, could essentially leave some participants unprepared for the increase in workloads.
“Because of the condensed schedules in the IPL, and the heat and the travel, the bowlers haven’t been bowling a lot in the nets,” Bond said. “Going into the ICC Champions Trophy, where the top bowlers will be expected to bowl their quota of 10 overs, will pose a unique kind of challenge in terms of the bowlers not having had enough of a workload. It is important that it is not just your skills that are up to speed, you need to have had miles in the legs as well.”
Bond, as bowling coach of Mumbai Indians, has been overseeing the progress of two of New Zealand’s premier quicks. “There are a couple of Kiwis in our franchise – Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan – who are in the ICC Champions Trophy squad. Mitch has been a regular feature in our playing XI, but Tim hasn’t had as many games. The challenge for both Tim and Mitch is bowling 5-6 over spells that they most likely will in England.”
The batsmen, by comparison, might be better off in Bond’s reckoning. “The mindset is pretty much the same in both formats,” he said. “Look to hit the ball hard, score quickly.
“There will be the odd challenge in terms of changes of roles for certain batsmen. Rohit Sharma has been batting in the middle order for us and Aaron Finch for Gujarat Lions, and both of them will need to re-adjust to playing the new ball, in English conditions, when they open the batting for their respective countries.”
Bond was also concerned about the all-format players from India and Australia. “They played the Test series in February-March, followed immediately by the IPL,” he said. “They will desire a mental break of a couple of weeks going into the ICC Champions Trophy, just like the India players will, but that is not possible because there isn’t much time. And it becomes particularly challenging for the players that make it to the 21 May final, because the turnaround between then and the start of the ICC Champions Trophy is reasonably tight.”
Finally, a word from Bond on how he thinks his country will fare in the global event starting June 1. “New Zealand has sent a lot of other players – I wouldn’t say a second-string squad – for the triangular series in Ireland, which in some respects is good because it helps you develop depth to compensate for any injuries. They will be ready to go if they get a late call-up.”