To an outsider, the move to have the India under-19 cricketers travel with the teams might appear like a paid holiday. But a closer look reveals that they are gaining enormously in terms of knowledge and experience.
Most of the franchises have foreign coaching staff and to get exposed to international coaching standards is a huge experience for the youngsters. Take the case of Jaidev Unadkat, the lanky left-arm pacer from Saurashtra, who represented India in the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand.
Unadkat is still to sign the main players’ contract, yet he is being coached by Wasim Akram. The ‘sultan of swing’ is the Kolkata Knight Riders’ bowling consultant this year, and it couldn’t have got better for the youngster than to learn the art from his idol.
“It is a huge learning curve”, says Unadkat. “With Wasim sir, I have been able to correct a lot of wrong notions. I had been told that to succeed as a left-arm pacer, I needed a good in-swinger in the armoury. Sir said it’s a myth. I am a natural out-swing bowler and he has asked me to stick to my strengths while gradually learning the art to bring the ball in,” he added.
“Earlier, my grip used to wobble at the time of release but he’s corrected it. He minutely watches my action and picks up every mistake for discussion. I am gradually getting the ball to dart into right-handed batsmen. With time, I hope to do it in my natural speed,” says Unadkat with a smile.