Exacting quarantine restrictions on Victoria’s Sheffield Shield squad in Adelaide are set to force the reduction of the number of games they play in the initial rounds to just two – as opposed to four matches for some other states – as the limited training allowed has impacted the bowling workloads available to the state’s fast men.
In flying from locked-down Melbourne to the far freer environment of Adelaide, Victoria’s players were limited to a daily training session in groups no bigger than four, meaning it will be impossible for all of their pace bowlers to build up their bowling loads to the level usually required ahead of a schedule of four-day matches.
While the decision to reduce Victoria’s number of games from three to two is believed to have been made some days ago, discussions about the flow-on effects on the rest of the Shield schedule are continuing. Victora’s first match was meant to be against New South Wales from October 22, two days after the squad had been released from quarantine. Cricket Australia is yet to release fixtures for the remaining rounds of the Shield to be played after the Big Bash League, which is set to begin in early December.
“We are getting a lot of information on whether our fast bowlers are getting the loads they need to be ready for those games straight out of quarantine,” Victoria’s captain Peter Handscomb said. “It’s something I have flagged … the last thing we want is one of our bowlers to get injured in that first game after being underdone. In terms of batters we could probably come out and do it, but the bowlers are going to have a pretty tough time of it, especially considering we have quite a young bowling attack.
“They are going to need a bit more time on their feet after quarantine. We’re being guided by the science and what Cricket Australia are giving us. But it is tough on our bowlers. We’ll need to find out relatively soon so we know what we are doing.”
Handscomb described some of the permutations of training sessions. “We have a three-hour window, and a one-hour window with each section, in the gym, the indoor nets them to the outdoor nets. Then it’s back on the bus, back to the hotel and back in to our rooms,” he said. “We have tried to get a bowler and a batter in each group with a coach and then another bowler or batter, depending on the numbers.
“We had word about five days before we came over it would be like that, and that’s this year, things change, and we just have to keep doing what is required of us to get the season over. We’re OK with it, we’re cracking on and trying to be as prepared as can.”