New Delhi:India head coach Ravi Shastri believes the forced break due to the coronavirus pandemic is a 'welcome rest' for Indian players as they can now re-energise themselves and after playing some hectic cricket since last year.
Like every other sports across the world, cricket has also been affected with all international and domestic fixtures being called off due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
"(This rest) cannot be a bad thing because towards the end of the New Zealand tour, you could see some cracks coming up when it came to mental fatigue, physical fitness and injuries," Shastri said while talking to Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Rob Key on a Sky Sports podcast.
According to Shastri, the players may use the time to re-energise themselves, especially after a gruelling New Zealand tour where India played five T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests.
"The amount of cricket we have played over the last ten months, that was beginning to take its toll. Guys like me, and some other guys from the support staff, we left India on May 23 for the World Cup in England. Since then we have been at home for 10 or 11 days,'' Shastri said.
"There are certain players who played all three formats, so you can imagine the toll it has taken on them, especially being on the field, adjusting from T20s to Test match cricket and all the travel that goes with that because we travelled quite a lot," he added.
After the New Zealand tour, India were slated to play three ODIs against South Africa which was cancelled. Also, they were supposed to participate in a two-month long Indian Premier League (IPL), which has now been suspended till April 15.
India is currently in a 21-day lockdown which started on March 25. According to Shastri, the team anticipated such measures would be taken to enforce social-distancing when South Africa's tour of India was called off just before the second ODI in Lucknow.
"It came as a shock but to be honest, having been on the road during the South Africa series, we guys anticipated it.
We knew something was on the cards as the disease had just started spreading. When the second ODI was called off, we knew something was gonna happen and a lockdown was imminent, " the coach said.
The disease, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province, has so far claimed over 27,000 lives across the globe.
Shastri agreed that in such a situation, players could play a great role by spreading awareness about this pandemic.
"As players, you have a lot of responsibility. That's why the message is very clear that cricket should be last on everyone's mind now," he said.
"I think the most important thing is safety and not ensuring just your safety but ensuring safety of others as well, by creating a kind of awareness that tells people there is something serious around, '' he added.
"Virat has done it, a lot of other players have done it by posting certain messages on social media. They knew that it's something very serious and there could be a hold up in cricket for some time, ''the coach stated.
Many sportspersons have been urging people to stay indoors and adhere to the guidelines of the health authorities in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.(UNI)