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Tushar Deshpande: White-ball or red-ball, my process remains the same

Last updated on 12 Jul 2023 | 05:04 AM
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Tushar Deshpande: White-ball or red-ball, my process remains the same

In a freewheeling conversation with, Deshpande spoke about his fitness regime, his change in mindset, and the conversation that made him a constantly-evolving bowler

Tushar Deshpande found a new lease to his career in 2023. After warming the bench for the major part of the IPL 2022, Deshpande emerged as the prime wicket-taker for Chennai Super Kings in the last edition and even holding the Purple Cap in the IPL for a while. A lot had to give in for the Mumbaikar to come out of the inconsistency phase and become a bowler he so desperately wanted to become.

In a freewheeling conversation with, Deshpande spoke about his fitness regime, his change in mindset and the conversation that made him a constantly-evolving bowler. 

You just had a great IPL and now looked in terrific rhythm with the red ball in the nets. How do you mentally and tactically prepare yourself for the switch in format?

The basics remain the same for red-ball and white-ball cricket. I'd read each game as a very important match for me. I don't differentiate between white-ball and red-ball. My process for each game is the same. The focus with which I go into each game - be it white-ball T20, red-ball, Ranji trophy, or any other form of cricket in the longer format—is the same. So, once I started doing that, keeping my process the same for every format of the game, it started to pay dividends to me. It's just about adapting to the situation and keeping my calm under pressure—in white-ball cricket, more often than not. In Test cricket, it's more about how consistently you bowl and how physically fit you are, and how patient you are to keep delivering your skills. 

But when you have to change the format immediately, even though mindset, etc. is the same, there are technical changes that you need to make. How do you go about that seamlessly?

Yes, it is easy because I keep reminding myself that, be it white-ball or red-ball, it’s the same. That makes it easy for me. It keeps me from too many distracting thoughts or wanting to try many different things. Going from white-ball to red-ball is a challenge, normally, but keeping it simple helps. Then, once you are in the zone in a format, things become more straightforward. Then, you start thinking about the opposition, your planning, your variations. But keeping that switch simple is important to make it easier to move from one format to another.

In IPL, you play all the matches in extremely hot conditions in Chennai. Normally and for you particularly, how difficult was it to acclimatise to these conditions suddenly, even having to play afternoon matches sometimes?

All thanks to CSK because we had a pre-season camp for a month in Chennai before IPL started. So, that helped in acclimatising to the conditions and ground dimensions as well. And it is hot in Chennai, as we all know. For a fast bowler, acclimatising to that situation is difficult. But normally, when you're playing IPL, these things don’t appear in my head. I back my fitness — the work I have done in the past. And the rest is the process.

How does your fitness regime change according to the weather? For example, the weather is different if you’re going to play in Bangalore.

My fitness regime does not change all that much; it is normal, more or less. Fitness is harder to maintain in hotter conditions than in cooler ones. In that way, when compared to playing in Chennai, other venues seem better. So, the change will be minor things like more hydration when playing in Chennai, taking in more fluids. And when you get used to playing in hot conditions like Chennai, it becomes a bit easier to play in more pleasant conditions elsewhere.

I don't know the exact science, but would you lose more calories while playing in a hotter climate for the same amount of effort?

Yes, because the sweat loss is much more when you play in hotter conditions — more often in humid conditions like Chennai and Mumbai, which are close to the coast. It is true, but it is also difficult while bowling because the more you sweat, the slippery your hands get. So, that is another factor to consider.

You have always been a wicket-taking bowler, but you also brought in a lot of discipline. Like, every match, your line, and length got better and better. Do you remember any particular conversation, say with MS Dhoni or Dwayne Bravo, that helped you in this?

A key conversation that I remember is being told to be clear on what I have to deliver and be calm under pressure. So, I simply resolved to follow that guideline. More than technique, I think it was about clarity and the confidence Bravo gave me to bowl in the death overs. Even when I didn’t bowl well and went for runs, it was always about how I came back stronger in the next match. We can be tempted to overthink what went wrong, but sticking to the process is the key here. He always believed in backing your strengths, being clear at the top of your mark, and executing it.

What does your practice regime look like when there is no match? For example, you have had a one-month gap now. How has practice been going? 

Normally, I work on my fitness when there are no matches. Also, I use the time to work on a few things that I lack because, as individuals, you tend to lack in a few areas when you keep playing continuously, season after season. So, when I get a break, it's more about working on fitness, injury management, and on a few technicalities in bowling.

Well, right now, there is a lot of rain in Mumbai. So, what is your plan for practice — indoor or something else?

Indoor is fine to maintain the feel, but it's more about maintaining fitness. I plan to do something here because fitness normally needs to be looked at during off time. Once you get back to cricket, it's all about adjustment and how quickly you adapt to your conditions and your strength. But fitness is something you should always keep working on. Also, you want to work on things you're not good at and try to improve.

You are a different person from five years ago. You have worked on your fitness, you lost weight, you became a better cricketer… all of these things keep you agile. As a person, what are the things that have changed?

As a person, I have had to become more socially responsible. I have had to direct my focus to one thing. Because in a country where so many play cricket, very few get the opportunity or the kind of platform like IPL. So, I try to remain grateful for such an opportunity and improve myself socially and on the field. So, now that I have received all these, it's also always about bettering myself off the field. 

Coming back to the CSK conversation… initially, you weren't going to be the first option. But with the injuries to Simarjeet changed and suddenly, you were going to be the first option player. What were the conversations beforehand that actually helped you become the player that you became in the tournament?

At the start of the tournament, I didn't think I would get to play all the matches. So that was a bit unexpected. But I was very optimistic about my approach in the camp. I was just going through my routines and just giving my best. A few injuries came, and then I got my opportunity to play. So in my conversation with Mahi bhai, he simply told me that there is a good chance that I would get to play more matches. He said, “Just back yourself. You have everything to succeed at the first level.” Him saying that I had everything to succeed at the top level gave me confidence. And from there, it has been ups and downs, and then more and more ups.

After the tournament, he told me to remember what the season taught us. Of course, it's a good thing that we won, but what this season taught us and what we can improve before returning for the next season is important.

How did the camaraderie inside the CSK dressing room come about? How does the management help the players get into the groove? 

I have only been here for two years. And this atmosphere is something that has been coming along for many years. Yes, it is always that they back you completely. They give you the freedom to express what you have, and then they'll put in a word if needed. But first, they give you the freedom to showcase your talent.

What are the things that you would like to achieve in next six months?

The first thing is playing for India, making the international debut. But with that, I prefer following my process match by match and giving my best in whatever opportunity. I am more process-oriented, so I don't look at things that are too far ahead. I stay in the present. What has worked for me is to stay in the present and just give my best in whatever opportunities I get. That is what my next goal is.

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