While coaches are speaking about a time frame of six to eight weeks to return to competitive match fitness, Saha said that he wouldn't individually want to put a time-frame on his match-readiness.
There are two doting dads in South Kolkata’s Saha household. There is “younger dad” Wriddhiman, who recently became father for the second time and is tending to his infant son Anve. And there is Wriddhiman’s father Prashanta, who is also performing his parental duty — ensuring that India’s most technically accomplished wicketkeeper’s hand-eye co-ordination remains top notch.
Saha senior is helping his son with keeping drills inside their spacious South City apartment. “Whatever drills possible in the confines of my apartment, I am doing that. So I do a lot of hand-eye coordination drills which are a must for keepers. At times, I am throwing a softball against the wall and catching to get the feel,” Wriddhiman told PTI during an exclusive interaction.
“At times, my father (Prashanta Saha) is helping me inside the flat,” he said. Is there enough space to manoeuvre and catch? Luckily for Saha, there is. “Yes, I can move sideways and catch.” Asked if this forced break feels like the time he nursed a shoulder surgery in 2018-19, Saha said that it’s better than that phase.
“That time (post surgery), I couldn’t keep for months because of surgery but here if I want I can do my keeping drills.
“Look, it’s not that I am not in touch. It’s not that you get completely out of touch during lockdown. Yes, running is the thing that I am not able to do because of lockdown. “So that’s a wait. Now inside our apartment complex, they are allowing us to walk in evenings.”
While Nick Webb has given customised training charts to everyone, Saha said that he has some equipment but it’s not possible to have a regimented exercise routine inside the apartment with a young family. “Yes, I have some normal equipment. Obviously, not like a whole gym. Since family is here, I am training as much I am able to. I don’t have a specific duration of training.”
While coaches are speaking about a time frame of six to eight weeks to return to competitive match fitness, Saha said that he wouldn’t individually want to put a time-frame on his match-readiness. “Bowlers, pacers in particular yes, they would need time proper running, hitting the lengths, getting the pace up there, it takes time. Batsmen won’t take that much time. I can’t say you can put a timeline as such,” the 35-year-old, who has played 37 Tests, said.
“Like there could be players, who might be match-ready after four sessions or may be take a few more. As far as I am concerned, I don’t think timelines work for me to be specific,” he said. So after hiatus, what is more difficult – gathering 140kmph deliveries that wobble at you or keeping up to spinners? “Depends on the mindset,” he says.
“It’s not necessary that keeping up to spinners will be difficult. May be, it can happen that very first day of a match, I find that I am in rhythm while gathering deliveries.”
After a fantastic twin series behind stumps against South Africa and Bangladesh, Saha didn’t feature in the playing XI against New Zealand in the away series. Always the one to dead-bat sensitive questions, the seasoned stumper had no complaints.
“It’s not what I like or dislike. Team management would do whatever is necessary for the benefit of the team. It’s their prerogative. I have been taught from childhood that team comes first and I see no reason to change my philosophy. My job is to train and be ready,” said the man, who has 1238 runs and 103 dismissals (catches and stumpings) in the longest version.
But doesn’t it bother him that there is a specific demarcation that better batsmen will be used in away series?
“I have never stressed on stuff like what happened and why I am not playing. Look, if the team management decides something, there is no place for contrarian views as far as I am concerned,” he said.
But does he never get hurt or feel angry and the answer is a stinging straight drive.
“No, I don’t.” “I am like this from my childhood. I don’t get overtly emotional. I am the same when I scored lot of runs and when I have failed or when I have not been picked in the playing XI.”
In fact, during the two Tests at Wellington and Christchurch, Saha was seen training alongside Pant and also having some conversations. “I wouldn’t say I have shared anything specific with Rishabh but we would train together along with our fielding coach R Sidhar. The interactions would be like I would tell him what are the situations that I have faced in my cricketing career, know about what he has faced.
“Also what Sridhar sir has observed from the sidelines or during training, we would discuss that. How to improve one’s keeping in various conditions, match simulations, game situations, these were the topics of conversation,” he said.
Since India’s next Test series is in December (vs Australia), Saha will be looking for some game time in domestic cricket and IPL. “If I get matches well and good but all depends on the situation at that time. You still don’t know whether travelling is safe or not. I guess everything will be taken into account before the start of the camp.”