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A tale of two camps: Fun vs firm

cricket Updated: Feb 27, 2011 01:04 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Hindustan Times
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The practice session of the India and England team was a study in contrast on the eve of their high-profile World Cup game. The home players warmed up with a football match, keenly fought but with a lot of banter traded between MS Dhoni's and Sachin Tendulkar's teams.

They all then lumbered to the net practice arena. In between the batting and bowling session, Harbhajan Singh, Virat Kohli, Munaf Patel, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni rested under the umbrellas, enjoying a long chit-chat, much like a colony group at their favourite hang-out.

Kirsten's Mantra
Alongside one of the nets, Virender Sehwag was holding court. Listening to him were Tendulkar and Gary Kirsten, and both could be seen laughing their guts off.

This scene is a regular feature at Indian practice sessions. It is not that the players are not training hard. They are slogging and sweating as much as any top professional outfit but coach Kirsten believes that players perform at their optimum in a relaxed atmosphere.

Andy's Boys
Switchover to the England practice session. The whole group is standing in a circle, listening attentively as their coach Andy Flower delivers a long lecture. Observing England's practice is like watching a disciplined performance of an army unit, where every drill is timed and carried out to perfection.

"Andy's practice sessions are very well organised. Before every session, he has everything written down on a board as to who will exactly be doing what,” said a member of the England camp.

“They have fun games too, like on the last West Indies tour they trained with music on. But it is all well thought out. It is something which has brought very good results for England," he added.

Successful coaches
It’s evident that Kirsten and Flower's coaching philosophies differ. But the beauty about it is that their respective styles are both delivering positive results.

India under Kirsten and England under Flower have both become formidable. India have done well both at home and away against all oppositions while England had a highly successful last season, vanquishing Australia in Australia to retain the Ashes and also won the World T20.

Giving momentum
“Since Flower has taken over, we have been changing the history, winning World T20 and (achieving) an Ashes win in Australia in 24 years. There is the confidence of winning big tournaments,” said paceman Stuart Broad.

The key is to figure out what works best in a particular set-up. Given the huge cultural and social differences between different nations, what works in Europe and Australia, might not in India and vice versa. The current India and England teams are lucky they have coaches who understand that.

However, wins on Sunday, it will be a shot in the arm for Africa.