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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014
Gary’s art of war
Rakesh Thapliyal, Hindustan Times
Mohali, March 29, 2011
First Published: 07:49 IST(29/3/2011)
Last Updated: 08:14 IST(29/3/2011)
Coach Gary Kirsten and skipper MS Dhoni engage in a game of football during India’s practice session at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Friday.

Indian coach Gary Kirsten has given specific instructions to his squad to help them raise their skill level and surmount the huge pressure of expectations in their bid to win the World Cup. The elaborate note circulated to the players provides precise observations on semi-final opponents Pakistan, and the kind of hurdles the players need to clear. HT takes a detailed look at the prominent points of Kirsten's dossier. 


Areas of concern
Batting full quota: India have failed to bat their full quota three times out of six, missing out on 25 important runs.

Batting powerplay: Our weak link so far, it should be taken only towards the close of an innings. We have some truly big-hitters in Yusuf Pathan and MS Dhoni, even then the crucial aspect is not to hit every ball out of the park, but to take advantage of the field restrictions.

Decision Review System (DRS): No point in creating a fuss, we should utilise it smartly.

Bowling woes: Only Zaheer has been up to mark, others, especially (a) senior spinner, should rise to the occasion.


Worries
Lack of innovation: As the loss against South Africa suggested, we lacked innovation, and it hurt the team. Need to think out of the box.

Lethargic fielding: Some of our better fielders (sic) were poor and didn’t take it seriously. Could hurt us in the later stages of the tournament.

Running between wickets: As Gautam Gambhir’s run out against Australia illustrated, running between the wickets remains a concern despite several reminders.

Poor throwing: Even though the boundaries were small, many failed to throw accurately.

Lack of coordination: Plans formulated in team meetings were not properly executed. Need to find a solution for this.

Poor bowling at the death: In some games we conceded 50-55 runs in the last five overs when our target was 35-40 runs. We gave 15 runs too many.

Batsmen underestimating opposition: The game against SA was a perfect example of the batters taking the rival bowlers lightly. Because of such lapses we failed to top the group.


Diet
Cottage cheese: Must for batters, they should eat it before bed. It contains a type of protein (casein) that is released slowly through the night.

Mixed nuts: A source of healthy fat, ideal to snack on.

Spinach: Strengthens the immune system. 

Tuna: Great source of protein which Indian players need more.

Bananas: For instant energy and potassium. A better option than a cake, sandwich or Mars bar.

Green tea: It lowers cholesterol. More beneficial than coffee and soft drinks.


Avoiding stress
Get up early: Getting up 15 minutes earlier gives you time to eat breakfast properly and head to practice in the right frame of mind.

Do something healthy: If you are not practicing go to the gym or take a swim.

Write it down: Write everything down – players must keep a ‘To do list’ and a 'Have done’
list too.

Spread cheer: Crack jokes in the dressing room or click pictures, do something that makes others’ smile. 

Forgive teammates: Give leeway to your teammates. Allowing others the right to make a mistake goes a long way toward (sic) forgiving yourself for mistakes. 'Never attribute to malice what can easily be attributed to stupidity.'

No food after practice: Get away for a 15-minute break.

Use videos: Take a look at your best performances and also try to rectify errors in your technique. Also, watch movies, comedy shows etc. 

Avoid media: Expert views will be there, you can’t stop them.  Stay away from TV & papers.

Stretch It and do yoga: Get up and stretch, twist side to side and bend front to back. Do yoga to relax. 


Fielding
Positive intent: Always look for the ball, try to take a match-winning catch/run out and try to save at least eight runs.

Set goals: Set targets like runs saved, catches taken per opportunity, direct hits etc.

In the ring: Close down the angles that the ball can travel without compromising your reaction time.

Role models: Learn by watching Ricky Ponting, AB de Villiers and Paul Collingwood. Study their body positions.

Watch Dhoni: Maintain eye contact with skipper MS Dhoni. He may want to move you to set a trap or plan something.

Captain your own space: Know what your roles and responsibilities are in the field. If in doubt, ask the captain.

The Power position: When the ball is about to be hit, lower your body weight, keep your head forward and hands ready like a football goalkeeper.

Master the basics: Practice single and double handed catching, handling ground balls and bouncing balls and throwing techniques.

Manage your energy: You need to be able to to switch your focus and energy on and off for when the ball is in play. 

Anticipate well: Focus on a batter’s body position. After a while you’ll begin to see the positions they get into to hit specific areas.


Use of Jargon
The whole document is liberally peppered with management jargon. Gary Kirsten may be pushing the language skills of India's cricketers to the limit for phrases like 'thought awareness', ‘streams of consciousness’ and ‘model excellence’ do tax the gray cells of the layman.

Also, some bits of it read like a motivational book that sounds nice but may not be too practical to implement. Not all of our cricketers attended too much in way of schooling, after all.

While Kirsten’s attempt is a novel idea, one wonders how much of it actually got through to the players. Wonder if some kind of translation was made available to those not so comfortable with English?
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