Ireland’s home summer received a major boost after the players were allowed to resume training on June 8th but it comes after the disappointment of having missed out on the opportunity to play major cricketing heavyweights- and with that the opportunity to cause a few upsets along the way.
After their tour to Zimbabwe in April was canned in wake of the pandemic, Cricket Ireland was forced to postpone hosting Bangladesh, Pakistan and New Zealand in various capacities. With uncertainty looming over the T20 World Cup in October, for which Ireland has qualified, the focus is back on preparing for one-day cricket.
Due to lockdown restrictions in Ireland, the training pool consisting of 30 players has been split into three sub-groups training in Dublin, Belfast and Bready (North Western Ireland).
In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Irish International Shane Getkate, capped 18 times since February 2019, explains what it is like to be back training in tough times.
“Yeah it’s been great to be back training. We started back last Monday, building it up slowly. There’s quite a strict timetable with different zones (nets). There’s a batting session, bowling session and a fielding & fitness session. Mainly it is one-to-one coaching (one player, one coach) at the moment,” he said.
Getkate is currently training at the Cricket Ireland High Performance Center in Dublin. Before and after every training session, the players have to conform to strict hygiene protocols laid down by Cricket Ireland.
“We do a questionnaire before going to a training session,” explains Getkate. “It’s just filling questions about COVID-19 like ‘do you have any symptoms’ or ‘have you been in contact with anyone having COVID-19’.”
“When we arrive at the ground, there’s a COVID Safety officer who takes our temperature straight away and it has to be under 38 degrees for us to be able to train. Then one at a time, we have to wash our hands with hot water and cold water mixed together. We sterilise our hands and wipe down all our kits.
“Once we are done (training), we wipe down all the balls we have used, stumps and our equipment with alcohol wipes. It does take some time but after a couple of sessions, we’ve got the hang of it,” he further added.
Ireland slowly get back into the groove
Ireland’s last assignment was against Afghanistan in Greater Noida in March. While the Afghans clinched the T20I series 2-1, Ireland won the third game off a last-ball six in a thrilling Super Over. With no cricket since, the players are easing into the outdoor sessions not risking any injuries.
“It took a few sessions for the body to get used to bowling. You can do a lot of running and fitness but here you are putting a different kind of load on your body. Initially started off with 5-6 steps, building easily with half a run-up and on Monday (this week) we went for a full run-up. So we are just building up as slowly as possible to make sure we are not picking up any niggles or injuries,” said Getkate.
Gradually building up the intensity, an ideal week nowadays consists of gym sessions thrice a week alongside three skill sessions with Wednesday and the weekends off. Previously during the lockdown, Getkate trained six times a week as part of a fitness program designed by the strength and conditioning coach Brendan Connor.
The program consisted of three strength sessions and three running sessions for all players. Getkate believes living near the beach in North Dublin came in handy for the running sessions and doubled up his fitness sessions with general workouts using resistance bands.
On the international front, Ireland are currently preparing for three ODIs against England at the Ageas Bowl in July but the series is subject to approval from both the governments. Tentatively, Ireland are expected to arrive in Southampton on July 16th and serve a 14-day quarantine and training period before their first ODI on July 30th. The remaining two ODIs are scheduled for August 1st and 3rd.
With Ireland having active cases of the virus in excess of 25 thousand, the domestic Inter-Provincial tournaments across all formats have been postponed with no date to reschedule in sight. After the curtain-raiser at Waringstown, Getkate would have been well into his fourth 50-over game of the season for the Northern Knights- barring his international commitments.
However, the 28-year-old all-rounder had a relatively busier time indoors as he completed an online course in personal training and nutrition course alongside finishing off Level 3 Admin work as part of his coaching certification.
Getkate has been involved in coaching since the age of 16 at club level but having recently formed his own coaching venture, SG Coaching, his key focus in the lockdown remained on building a suitable social media platform in order to substitute outdoor coaching.
“I added some online coaching helping young guys with training drills in the back garden. It is frustrating for them as well not playing cricket. So I helped them with what they have and what they would like to work on through video analysis and live gym sessions”, he said.
“I have been coaching for the last ten years. It is something I really enjoy, helping cricketers reach their full potential by imparting my knowledge. It is definitely something I would like to carry on doing after my career playing cricket,” he concluded.