Jonty Rhodes has reckoned that players will be able to pick up their skills quickly but it is the match practice or the lack of it that will take time to get used to. He added that the role of support staff will be crucial this year to provide support to players in absence of friends and family.
All the teams are keen to have few practice games before the tournament starts to dust off the rustiness that their players might have. Barring Chennai Super Kings, all teams have spent at least one week in the nets after completing their six-day quarantine upon arrival. CSK were forced into an extended quarantine after 13 of their contingent members tested positive for COVID-19.
Kings XI Punjab fielding coach Jonty Rhodes, who has returned to the coaching setup in IPL after a two-year gap, reckoned that players won’t take much time to pick up their skills but match mentality is what will take time. He also stressed the need for practice games before the IPL as players have not been in a competitive environment for a few months now.
"You tend to pick up the skills quickly but it is the match practice or the lack of it that will take a while to get used to. Playing in the nets is one thing, if you can get the match mindset, especially in a tournament like the IPL, it is very important," said the South African as quoted by TOI.
"We are trying to arrange one or two practice games just because of this reason (for match mindset). The skills have come back quickly. The balls are just flying out of the ground and it is good to see the bowlers hitting the right areas."
A high-pressure tournament like IPL is always mentally draining for the players, more so this time around, considering they have to be in a protected environment for three months. Adding to that, due to safety reasons, most of the players have not brought their families with them to support them during low phases.
Rhodes, who is rated among the best fielders of all time, stated that coaching staff will have an additional responsibility of providing emotional support to the players this time. He felt that it is important for the players to have a good support system to bear the highs and lows of IPL.
"Things might change when they have an up and down performance during the tournament and that is where the coaches have the responsibility of making sure the players are feeling good because they won't have the family back-up this time. Especially the ones who are not doing well or are on the bench. We as a team have to provide that family support," Rhodes said.