The Proteas high performance squad have completed their first week of training since their season ended in mid-March, and perhaps the first conclusion to be drawn is that it is just as well the return to play scheduled for June 27 was postponed to July 18.
That’s because the players are nowhere near peak match-fitness yet and Proteas physiotherapist Craig Govender is ensuring they do not do too much too quickly in order to prevent injuries.
“The players have been in lockdown for months and although quite a lot of work was put in in terms of exercise, we’ve had to put injury-prevention measures in place,” Govender said on Friday, in the build-up to the Solidarity Cup 3TCricket match in Centurion later this month, which is set to feature most of the country’s top limited overs players.
“As the guys return to training, the special instruction has been for them to do it progressively, to not take things too fast. Very good warm-ups are essential after such a long time out.
“Running, bowling and strength work must all be done in progression. We had good systems put in place and we trusted the players to follow the programmes we gave them since the beginning of lockdown, and it’s been nice to find out all the guys have been doing what was required. Now we have to put a rope around the guys and make sure they don’t go too hard.”
After a tough summer that saw them travel to India and then take on both England and Australia at home, there were a bunch of players carrying niggles and the one good thing about the enforced break is that it allowed those players to get over those issues.
“We looked at all the players with niggles and chronic problems and gave each one a programme for during lockdown,” Govender said.
“The good news is they are all a lot better now. They’ve allowed their bodies to rest, something which they did not have time for in the past. We have a phased approach to returning to action and we’ve had core stability sessions every week via Zoom during lockdown, as well as running and strength programmes.
“But cabin fever from staying indoors has been quite difficult for the players and a lot of them weren’t able to do weights for strength work because they don’t have a gym at home. But now that we’re back into training, it’s about the skills aspect. That’s very important now.
“It’s really nice for the guys to be out in the sun and the endorphins are kicking in.”