Updated: May 6, 2020 2:52:23 pm
Wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson would have been on the non-stop IPL treadmill with the Rajasthan Royals if the pandemic hadn’t brought life to a stop. The 25-year-old is innovating when it comes to practice but is also learning to do nothing and enjoy the idleness. In a chat with The Indian Express, the talented youngster talks about being moved by the plight of migrant workers during the lockdown, why he considers himself fortunate, and the challenges of staying away from the game. Excerpts:
How have you managed to stay active during the lockdown? Have you been able to access a gym to maintain fitness?
I was lucky enough to get some training equipment just before the lockdown, like a gym cycle, weights and bars. Most of the evenings, I train on my terrace. Nothing new or special. I like to keep it simple and follow programmes given by my trainer.
What about cricket skills? Have you been able to practise in isolation?
That’s the main concern for me. I have not been able to bat for so many days. And I can’t stay away from something which I love so much for so long. So, I have created a small area on my brother’s terrace, fully covered with nets, and I play with tennis balls and hit my shots. Or work on things which I wanted to work on.
Wicket-keeping drills is a bit of fun with tennis balls and walls, where you keep throwing the ball at the wall and then keep catching it with one hand like a ’keeper.
How do you stay fresh? The IPL would have been on during this time and you would have been playing non-stop.
Yes, absolutely. For the last 7-8 years, I have been doing the same, playing IPL in this period of the year. Yes, it’s a different feeling. Being at home and doing nothing and nothing much to look forward to. It’s a challenge to keep yourself fresh and happy in these kinds of situations but that’s what we have to do. The first couple of weeks were a bit challenging but now I have found ways to deal with it.
What have you done to ensure you stay in the right frame of mind?
Meditation plays a huge role and I ensure I do it almost every alternate day. It has huge benefits if you do it the right way. And these times are almost perfect for something like meditation. I am reading Steve Waugh’s book and watching a lot of Rajinikanth movies and a lot of Malayalam movies which are my favourites.
How have you been dealing with corona-related news from around the world?
It’s been so heart-breaking when you listen to the news and understand what is happening around the world. Basically, I am not a big fan of reading newspapers or watching news on tv but now I do to learn how things are going on and hoping everything will settle down soon. It’s so unbelievable that a small virus has made the whole world completely still. I truly believe we all have to learn something from this situation we all are going through. We have to realise it’s a blessing to live in this wonderful world and we must do our part to keep it safe and healthy for us and for the generations to come.
What is your opinion on the way Kerala (home state) has managed the crisis?
Kerala has done a very good job. The government here took the needed precautions and actions at the right time and everyone in Kerala has come together as a team and are working towards this situation. Be it the political leaders, policemen, doctors, nurses… almost every single person and even the people sitting idle at home and following the guidelines properly are also contributing towards the fight against corona.
Is there anything you have seen or read which has troubled you during this pandemic? What are your thoughts on how migrant workers around the country have had to manage without work or a steady income during April and had to walk miles to try and reach home?
Yes, it’s very sad to understand the situation of migrant workers. Life is tough for them. It’s much easier for people like us to sit at home and listen to all this news. It brings up a lot of emotions and feelings to do something for them from my side, to help them and make their situation a bit better than what it is now. And at the same time, almost every one of us keeps complaining about things not working out in our life or this and that. But if we look a bit into these lives, we all have to understand and realise how grateful we all should be.
Is there anything you are doing during this pandemic to help the local community?
Definitely, yes. I believe whatever noble things you do, it has to be done privately. So ‘yes’ will be a good answer.
How are you staying in touch with other cricketers?
I have had some video calls and chats with my India teammates and Rajasthan Royals teammates and, more importantly, during this period, I went back and connected with my Kerala U-13 teammates and reached out to everyone. Created a Whatsapp group and now we have a lot of funny moments in the group and it was so nice to get back in touch with the people I started playing cricket with at the state level.
Is there a new skill you have learnt during the lockdown?
The new thing which I have learnt is to sit idle and do nothing and be happy with that. Yes, it’s a very hard thing to do, from the day I remember anything in my life, I am running here and there, playing matches, practising, training and everything. But never have I sat quietly for a few days and did nothing. So I’m trying that these days.
When sport returns it is likely to be played in front of empty stands. Your opinion?
My opinion as a sportsman is to start sports as soon as possible. Because personally, that’s the only thing which I do and I love the most and I just want to go out there and play, but also by respecting the guidelines given by the responsible authorities. And I believe an IPL can change the mood of the entire country.
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