Very few can match Dhoni’s fitness at his current age: Trainer Ramji Srinivasan

He also believes that the shortest format has also helped cricketers evolve mechanisms for injury prevention and injury management

author_img Ashok Venugopal Published :  26th May 2022 12:17 AM   |   Published :   |  26th May 2022 12:17 AM

Former India team trainer Ramji Srinivasan, who was part of the support staff of the MS Dhoni-led team that won the 2011 World Cup, believes that T20 format is a catalyst which has changed the way cricketers and sportspersons train today. He insists that the demands of T20 has made cricketers prepare themselves mentally and physically for a career ahead in the game. He also believes that the shortest format has also helped cricketers evolve mechanisms for injury prevention and injury management.

In an exclusive chat with CE, he reveals the secrets of CSK skipper MS Dhoni’s fitness at the age of 40 and why Virat Kohli is a special athlete. Excerpts:

How has T20 changed fitness today?

The introduction of T20 and the popularity of IPL has changed the face of cricket. Players have embarked on a fitness regime from young age and are aware of the importance of it to be injury-free. They have become more agile and we have seen some outstanding catches in this IPL.

A fit body houses a fit mind, which is also obvious in their approach to the game, playing fearlessly. Understanding the game mode and designing the regime accordingly is the key to success. Since the format is short and explosive, the training needs to be that way. Focussing on speed strength, agility and explosive movements, and on bat speed and arm speed protocols is the key to be a better player.

How were the players’ fitness levels when you were with the Indian team in the 2011 World Cup?

We were the only team where the players never missed a match due to any injuries. The players prepared one year ahead. They were all both mentally and physically prepared. I would say each and every player took individual responsibility to keep themselves fit and I, as a Strength & Conditioning (S&C) professional, never pushed them beyond their capacity.

MS Dhoni was still agile behind the stumps for CSK in IPL 2022. What is the secret of his fitness?

MSD is an enigma and like Sachin Tendulkar, is one in a billion product. He does what suits him, be it strength work, agility, speed or hybrid work. He has his own protocols in place, which suits him. He has amazing reflex like a Formula One driver and with a mind like 5-star General. Very few can match MSD fitness when they reach that age. 

What sets Virat Kohli apart from the rest of the Indian team players?

Virat Kohli’s commitment to fitness is unparalleled. He would always be the first to hit the ground running or the gym. It’s a treat for any S&C coach to train Virat because he has already crossed more than half-way in his approach. His approach changed post 2012 IPL. Huge credit goes to Duncan Fletcher who had motivated him and believed his ability and potential to be a world beater. 

Many former cricketers insist that fielding is better today due to T20, why is it so?

As I mentioned earlier the fitness standards have increased massively. So fielding, taking catches, stopping the boundaries and running between the wickets has also improved. Before the advent of T20, players did not believe that they can convert half-chances into catches. 

Today, a player goes that extra mile to take a near impossible catch or stop a stunning boundary.