Worcestershire batter Rehaan Edavalath says the intense training he experienced during the first half of the winter in India will stand him in good stead for adjusting to the day-in, day-out schedule as a rookie professional.
Edavalath trained up to six hours a day, for six days a week, at the Karnataka Institute of Cricket in Bangalore and the CSK Academy in Chennai from October to December.
He was able to concentrate on all aspects of his game – red and white ball – and meeting the challenge of different conditions and types of bowling to what he has been accustomed to in England.
It followed on from a successful summer for Worcestershire’s 2022 Academy Player of The Year, who earned his first rookie contract at New Road.
But the 18-year-old was also able to embrace the culture and face the challenges of living in a different country.
Now Edavalath is relishing the chance to adapt to training regularly with the professionals during the second half of the close season and hopes to make his mark next season in Seconds cricket and challenge for an opportunity at senior level.
Edavalath looks back over the winter in a Question And Answer Session.
Q: You’ve had more than two months in India, what sort of experience was that for you?
Rehaan Edavalath: “Staying that long away from home and family was a very different experience.
“Just adapting to the culture, getting used to different foods, and conversing and communicating with everyone else, with English not being everyone’s main language, was a great experience, and I really enjoyed it.
“Especially with the cricket, you have to adapt your game. Obviously, in England, the ball bounces a lot but out there, it hits you on the shin a lot. There is a lot of turn and bounce to combat.”
Q: The life experience is as important as anything?
Rehaan Edavalath: “I thought that was the key takeaway. I had to be quite independent and manage a lot myself, and outside of the cricket, that was really key.
“I was lucky enough in Bangalore to stay with my aunt, and then in Chennai, I stayed in a hotel. I got used to sorting everything out independently, which was really good.
“It’s out of your comfort zone, what you are used to, and a great learning curve.”
Q: What did a typical day entail for you training-wise?
Rehaan Edavalath: “We were training six days a week, and there was also an optional day to train on Sunday.
“The day was quite hectic. For the first two or three weeks of the programme, I’d go in at 8.30-9am, do warm-ups, have an hour’s group session on the machines, various drills like in-swing and away swing, leg spin, off spin, just adapting.
“I’d then go and do some personal drill work I wanted to do for an hour, have lunch, and then fielding for an hour in the afternoon, and then in the evenings, a two-hour group session.
“It was a pretty full-on day, six days a week. It was quite intense, and after that, I focused on doing two-hour personal sessions and one-hour group sessions so I could focus on the really key parts of my game.”
Q: Was it all work with the machines, or did people bowl at you in the nets as well?
Rehaan Edavalath: “In the group sessions, we’d net with bowlers, and they were actually like machines, in the sense they’d keep on bowling and bowling and bowling without getting tired.
“I faced a variety of bowlers, mainly spinners but still quite a few seamers as well, and you had to adapt your game differently.
“In England, they tend to hit back of a length and the channels whereas they have to be a lot tighter and patient with their lines and lengths to establish more ‘lbws’ and ‘bowled’ successes with the ball because there is not as much movement. It is very hard for them.”
Q: A bit different to a seaming wicket in England in April!
Rehaan Edavalath: “Definitely, but the good thing over there was that there are artificial wickets that were used for the machines but also 15 proper training wickets.
“It was good fun and quite a lot different to a green top, being able to score more freely.”
Q: It should help you if you come across similar conditions in England?
Rehaan Edavalath: “That is what I worked on quite a lot, was the spin element, trying to explore various options because, at the moment, I’m not as strong with the reverse sweep and hard sweep, but I’ve worked a lot on those facets.
“I’d say my hard sweep went really well, and hitting over the top went really well.”
Q: Was it red and white ball cricket you were able to practice?
Rehaan Edavalath: “It depended on what I really wanted. Most of the time, I did red ball, but I also did have quite a few sessions where I did white ball just to explore different options.
“I would say 60%-40% red ball to white ball, but I did manage to fit in both.
“On the machines, I also did a lot of power-hitting as well, just to get ready for the white ball season as well.”
Q: You’ve said before you like occupying the crease, so batting hour after hour would have been ideal for you?
Rehaan Edavalath: “That is one of my main strengths, but I do want to add another string to my bow and work on my white ball game as well.”
Q: Is fielding an area, when making the transition to rookie professional, something you are conscious of focusing on?
Rehaan Edavalath: “In the fielding sessions, there were only a couple of people in the group, so we did a high volume of work, a lot of throwing, catching etc.
“I’d say at the next level, your throws need to be a lot flatter and harder, just in general attacking the ball, and covering the distance to get to the ball needs to be quicker.
“I tried to do a lot of work on that as well, just to help me for when I come back to step up to the next level.”
Q: Did you get much chance to see-explore parts of India?
Rehaan Edavalath: “I went to Kerala for a bit to see some family I hadn’t seen for several years and exploring that area was really good, and Chennai and Bangalore, I went outside and explored.
“Because the training was full-on, there was not much free time – but that is what I wanted to do. I went out there to train a lot and train hard.
“Overall, it has been a great learning experience, culture-wise and training-wise.”
Q: You are now back with Worcestershire. Will the work in India help you with the preparation for full-time training as a rookie professional?
Rehaan Edavalath: “I think it has, actually. Having trained in India six days a week, I came back and found it easier to transition into the work here because I did a lot of high-volume stuff over there.
“I am really looking forward to the next couple of months and improving my game because I’ve got clear plans of what I need to work on.
“It is quite enjoyable, training day in and day out, to help improve my game and get ready for the season.”
Q: Have you any goals going forward for 2023?
Rehaan Edavalath: “Just before the season, I set myself goals, like I did last year but having a successful time in second team cricket, both in red and white ball, and trying to break into the first team as well.
“Worcestershire give people an opportunity if they show potential, as with Jack Haynes, Josh Baker, and Taylor Cornall if you put in your performances, and that’s what I will be striving to do.
“At the next level, you need to be consistent day in, day out, so that’s what was really good last season, in that I put a string of performances together, instead of one good score and a couple of off games and that was really helpful.”