Zaheer Khan (left) and Yuvraj Singh during their training in France (Photo courtesy: Tim Exeter’s Twitter account)
By Taus Rizvi
For well-known fitness expert Tim Exeter, who has trained some of the best international sports stars, working with out-of-favour cricketers Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh was a new challenge.
So when the Indian superstars, who seek to make an international comeback, approached him, he agreed and they quietly slipped away to Brive La Gaillarde, a small town in France, to get back in shape.
“I like new challenges as it really makes you look hard at the needs of the athlete and requires much thought and planning,” Exeter told DNA from France. Exeter said he was happy to help them and said that the focus of the training was on building strength and endurance levels. After a six-week stay, the cricketers returned last week feeling much fitter and fresher.
So how did the training go? “It was great. It was extremely gratifying to see how they applied themselves and the improvements they made,” he said. Being different type of cricketers — Zaheer, a fast bowler, and Yuvraj, a batsman — Exeter had charted different sets of exercises for the two.
“Every athlete is different. They have different requirements, injury history, etc. This is part of the initial process I carry out before deciding on a course of action. There was a lot of work they carried out together but within that there was certain individualisation, to ensure that we hit the right spots,” he said.
For Exeter, who has trained footballers, dealing with cricketers was a first. “It’s not difficult to prepare someone to train for any sport, I look at everyone on a case by case basis.
“After that they will progress and improve as long as they buy in to the process, which Zak [Zaheer] and Yuvi [Yuvraj] did 100 per cent. I have said for years that talent alone is not enough in any sport, you have to work at the physical side to help on field and training performance but critically to reduce the injury risk.”
The trainer was all praise of the duo’s commitment. “They were the ones that decided to come, they paid their own way, they dived in 100 per cent from day one.”
So will we see a new Zaheer and Yuvraj? “They still retain all the skill and talent they have always had, hopefully, with their new found stability, strength, power and speed we will all enjoy watching them at their very best again,” he said.
“We worked together and came up with some cool cricket-specific exercises. My skills are transferable to most sports, I wouldn’t like to say a cricket specialist as really good athletic preparation is applicable to many sports,” he said.
Exeter said the duo will be much better now. “Hopefully, you will see them both doing what they are good at, more consistently, for longer and without getting injured.”
Shedding more light his time with the cricketers, Exeter said that it was not all work, there was some play too. “They are both very funny and we laughed a lot even when training hard. They were great with my family too.
“At the end of the day, most top sportspersons are the same, highly focused but if they are especially from team sports — good fun. Basically, grown up kids!”
Exeter plans to follow the duo’s career. “I certainly want them back in the India team so that I can watch them play in England. I may come to India at some stage too,” he added.
(Taus Rizvi is a Principal Correspondent with DNA. A club-level cricketer, he believes cricket helps in knowing a person’s character. Taus can be followed on @rizvitaus on Twitter. The above news has been republished with permission from DNA, where it first appeared)