THE lengthy absence from the gentleman’s game has fuelled a burning desire within TT and West Indies (WI) wicketkeeper/batsman Nicholas Pooran to work harder in anticipation of the game's return .
Although the rising professional cricketer expressed disappointment with the uncertainty of the sport’s comeback, Pooran’s desire to return is being driven by his overflowing passion to resume full training and international competition.
The 24-year-old opened up on his experiences during the global pandemic, on Friday, via a live YouTube broadcast entitled "Sport after covid19" hosted by the University of West Indies (UWI) Faculty of Sport's Dr Akshai Mansingh.
Pooran was one of six panel members – inclusive of UWI head of Open Campus Academy of Sport Kervin Jean, sport scientist Dr Rudolph Alleyne, president of the Jamaica Olympic Association Christopher Samuda, Jamaican Olympic track medallist Grace Jackson and ex-TT senior footballer and current Barbados men’s team coach Russell Latapy – who all took a detailed look at the effect on sport over the past few weeks and the possibilities of a speedy resumption.
After returning to TT from a fairly contested Sri Lankan tour with the WI in March, Pooran was greeted with a freshly imposed government stay at home order due to coronavirus, amidst an influx of worldwide travel restrictions.
He was scheduled to represent Kings XI Punjab at the lucrative 2020 Indian Premier League, at the end of March, but the competition has been suspended until further notice. After the suspension on April 16, the left-handed batsman was heartbroken.
He is, however, patiently awaiting the return of major competition and is using the current downtime to encourage and motivate himself in anticipation of a timely return to competition.
“I’m getting hungry for another opportunity. The next game I play, I’ll play (it) like my last game and give my all. Because in the back of my mind, I don’t know what is going to happen in the future. Waking up with a purpose is my daily routine. I’m just making up my mind every day and every week, thinking my chance to compete once more is coming,” he said.
The talented sportsman has set several fitness goals for himself and has become creative with his indoor exercises. Although he is unable to access the gym and outdoor training at local sporting facilities, Pooran has been keeping in shape, intent on returning to the circuit a better-rounded player.
“I set a goal for myself this year to be the best I could be with my fitness. I’m using exercise weights, Zoom and doing some rehab work with therapist Jason Pilgrim. It has been good for as I’m also working on my diet. I want to be ready for when that next opportunity comes. If I have to do push-ups with a brick on my back or lift a gas tank, I try to make it work somehow,” he added.
Additionally, the possibility exists the gradual resumption of cricket would see several matches played behind closed doors to maintain covid19 precautions. Such an atmosphere would be relatively new to Pooran, having grown accustomed to the glitz of IPL, Bangladesh and Caribbean Premier League, WI and top-flight domestic cricket.
When posed with this scenario by conference chairman Mansingh during the broadcast, Pooran admitted feeding off the ‘twelfth man’ (fans) provides much-needed adrenaline to boost an athlete’s performance. According to him, spectator presence is crucial towards coaxing a player on or throwing them off their game.
“When you’re in the middle (pitch) and there are a lot of people, there’s so much energy. You just want to be out there performing at the best level. With no spectators, it’s bad for athletes. But it’s all about being a professional and it’s my job to do the best I can do. If I don’t perform, I’m going to get dropped (from the team) eventually. So I have to find it in my mind now, turn around the negativity and make it work because we don’t know how long this virus is going to last. We have to make the adjustment and make the difference,” he concluded.