Mott backs players to adapt to cricket's shifting landscape
Australia coach Matthew Mott explains the measures taken to ensure Australia's female players can manage the implications of the Coronavirus pandemic
27 March 2020, 02:23 PM AEST
Australia coach Matthew Mott knows a flexible approach will be necessary as his team prepares for next year’s ODI World Cup, but believes his players are better placed than most.
After this month’s limited-overs tour of South Africa was postponed indefinitely due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian players have found themselves in an unfamiliar situation after the busiest 10-month period of travel in the group’s history – at home.
Under normal circumstances, the Australian players would have enjoyed their six-week annual leave period before undertaking several camps at Brisbane’s Bupa National Cricket Centre through the winter, leading into a limited-overs series against New Zealand in late September or early October.
As it stands, the future is filled with unknowns. For the Australian contracted group, their leave period goes ahead as planned, but the environment they will return to remains to be seen.
"I think we’re already got our head around the fact we’ll need to be flexible," Mott told cricket.com.au.
"But with how well resourced our state programs are, we’ve almost been talking a lot about being able to get the players to train in their own states anyway.
"It’s a complete shutdown at the moment and they can’t get into the state facilities, but I think it’s an opportune time for them to think about what that’s going to look like."
Ongoing restrictions for domestic travel could rule out any possibility of training camps throughout the winter, but Mott believes the structures in place in each state will mean his players will not miss out, once they are able to resume training.
"We’ve got key staff in different areas, we’ve pretty much got most of the major cities covered," he said.
"That will become key, and I said to some of the staff yesterday, however isolated we feel, we’ve got the best IT programs in the world in terms of cricket.
"Because of how well resourced we are at state level, we can communicate really well and make sure our players are being well looked after.
"It’s a hard time for the community and there are tough times ahead but purely from a cricket point of view, I think we can actually manage quite well."
For now, all the players can focus on is their physical fitness.
Strength and conditioning coach Noel McCarthy has issued his players with programs that require little equipment, while they have also been shipped some equipment including therabands and smaller weights.
"It’s just giving them some small tools they can do in their own home," the Australian coach explained.
"The way they are now they can still run, so we’ve got some running programs in there as well.
"Noel has looked at it in a really positive sense, it’s just a slight change of focus really.
"Generally we’d be doing more strength work at this stage, so this is just more running stuff and making sure they’re keeping fit that way. It’s just a slight adjustment on their programs.
"You can look at this in one of two ways – in a negative way and say this is going to be hard, or see it an opportunity to work on some fitness and clear their heads a bit and fill in some time.
"There’s no doubt with the group we’ve got, they’re going to look at it in a really positive light and spend some time with their loved ones at home and then they’ve got a lot of time to train.
"I think they can use it well, there’s literally no distractions. I’ve got full confidence they’ll be working really hard."
How long lockdown measures and closures to cricket facilities remain in place will have a major say in how much time the Australian players can spend on their skills ahead of the summer, should it be able to proceed as planned.
While Mott said it would be important for the pace bowlers in particular to be able to build up their loads before partaking in any future international matches, he does not believe a shortened preseason will be harmful.
"Realistically it’s going to be a while," Mott said.
"Those first camps (we had planned) are under serious threat.
"Working back from the New Zealand series, maybe if we can get a good result we could get six to eight weeks and we can do a lot (in that time).
"And to be honest, that’s what cricket was like when I was playing. You basically started preseason then and you never felt underdone going into the season.
"So, from a skills perspective, batting-wise it shouldn’t be an issue. We’ve got to make sure we keep our bowling loads up enough so when we get to that New Zealand series, they’ve got the miles under their belts.
"We’ve just got to keep rolling with it and seeing what each day brings."
If the 2020-21 season can go ahead as planned, the Australian players will have no shortage of cricket ahead of the 2021 World Cup, which is scheduled to be played in New Zealand next February and March.
In addition to the New Zealand series, there is the Rebel WBBL and domestic 50-over Women’s National Cricket League, as well as the potential for the postponed South Africa series, should it fit into the schedule, and a mooted warm-up series in January akin to this year’s tri-series featuring India and England.