Although years in the United States forced Shesh Madhokar to spend time away from playing cricket, the most beloved game in his Indian homeland, the establishment of the Grand Rapids Cricket Club allowed him to return to participating in his athletic passion. Presently, the GRCC participates in the Chicago-based Midwest Cricket Conference, and it is the primary entity promoting cricket in the West Michigan region.
Despite the passion of the GRCC’s members, there are still relatively few opportunities to play and prepare for traditional cricket in Michigan, so cricket practitioners must take advantage of every opportunity to train. With that said, Shesh gave us a list of five things young cricket players can do to develop their skills in a non-cricket-friendly land.
1. Play Indoor Cricket
One disadvantage faced by cricket players in cold-weather environments is a reduced number of playing opportunities relative to players in warmer climates. Shesh says that, rather than taking three to six months off every year, serious cricketers can still hone their skills as long as they are willing to move the game indoors and make some creative rule changes.
“There are indoor cricket leagues, and they are becoming more attractive than they used to be,” Shesh explained. “There are at least 40 to 50 people in our club that play tennis ball games for fun. They don’t want to play with the hard ball; they want to play with the tennis ball.”
2. Get To The Gym
Like many other athletes, cricketers can benefit from the boost to speed strength and endurance that comes from engaging in a strength and conditioning program. The long lengths of cricket matches, bowler run ups, and more frequent spurts of action translate into more activity for cricket players than their baseball playing counterparts, so Shesh says that off-the-pitch training is a must in order to maintain endurance.
“We try to encourage our player to work on their legs and shoulders to help them when they are throwing from long distances,” Shesh said. “The youngsters that go to schools have access to gyms, but others that work full time have to create a space for working out. Time management becomes a challenge for people that have families, but we still try to ask them to make time for it two or three times a week.”
3. Do Plenty Of Squats
Squatting is simultaneously one of the most widely utilized and least liked exercises for the simple reason that squats are incredibly effective in developing lower-body power and endurance, and they are also incredibly painful. Shesh advises the members of his club to include squats as a regular part of their training routines in order to make the long cricket matches more tolerable.
“We ask players to do squats because we want to make sure their thighs are fit,” Shesh said. “We’re standing for a period of two to four hours, and so we try to emphasize fitness of the thighs. We encourage members to do all kinds of squats if they can fit them in their schedules.”
4. Play Baseball and Softball
As far as American sports go, baseball and softball are the most readily available sports to replicating the principles of cricket. Batting, throwing and fielding are all performed in equal measure on the cricket pitch as well as the baseball diamond, and that is why Shesh recommends that cricketers should play baseball or softball when opportunities to play cricket are not that plentiful.
“There are a couple players in our club that play softball, baseball or both,” Shesh pointed out. “It helps them to throw from far distances. The baseball training is more robust and sophisticated than cricket games. Playing a curveball and things like that are part of cricket as well, so for the fielding and batting side of cricket, playing baseball and softball definitely helps.”
5. Watch Other Cricket Players
Due to a paucity of high-level cricket in the western hemisphere, viewing cricket matches played by world class cricketers can be very challenging, particularly when major American sports networks offer coverage of major cricket tournaments only once every few years. Still, the fact remains that the only way to fully master a sport is to watch it played by the world’s best athletes, or at least the best athletes you can find around you, and Shesh understands that cricket is no different in this regard.
“Especially in a country like the U.S. where we don’t have the coach availability we have in other cricket playing nations, we tend to lean toward the senior players to train us,” Shesh said. “At the same time, it is required for the young players to see cricket and to look at the professional level. You watch the major golfers and you see what they’re doing, and it’s the same thing with soccer and other sports.”
The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event(s) that welcome athletes regardless of age or ability level. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living.