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Role of a coach is paramount

What is the easiest way of dealing with an out-of-form player? Drop him, send him back to play domestic cricket and wait for him to make amends before drafting him in again. Quite easy! Now, what would be the most difficult way of dealing with the same struggling cricketer? Aakash Chopra writes.

india Updated: Jul 04, 2010 01:09 IST
Akash Chopra

What is the easiest way of dealing with an out-of-form player? Drop him, send him back to play domestic cricket and wait for him to make amends before drafting him in again.

Quite easy! Now, what would be the most difficult way of dealing with the same struggling cricketer?

It would be to get to the root cause of the problem, help him rectify it and, all this while, putting an arm around his shoulder to boost his morale. Because technical glitches won’t take too long to be rectified but shattered confidence might just take an eternity to be restored.

You really don’t need a qualified person to find faults. It’s ridiculously easy to say that ‘X’ player is a suspect on short-pitched deliveries and ‘Y’ player can’t swing the ball anymore. But it takes not only a qualified professional but also a really patient and understanding man to rectify these mistakes.

Poor form is seldom the spin-off of one thing or one aspect of the game going wrong. The starting point of the downfall may well be negligible but you get to know its effect only when it snowballs into a much bigger and easily identifiable problem i.e. poor show on the field. For example Sreesanth’s poor bowling form often starts with his non-bowling arm coming down a tad early, which eventually leads to his straying in line.

Gauti also had this problem of falling over and hence was susceptible to sharp in-coming deliveries. Gary made those minor, but necessary, adjustments in his stance and head position and the rest is history. It not only changed the fortunes of his career but of the Indian team too.

If Gautam’s example spoke about the positive influence of a coach, here’s the exact opposite of that. A bowler, from a respectable Ranji Trophy team, was struggling with the problem of over-stepping. So much so, that the guy was bowling every delivery from at least 6-8 inches over the popping crease. There were a plethora of coaches supervising his progress, or the lack of it. All that these wise men did was tell him that he was overstepping and that he needed to stop it. They had nothing more to offer to the player.

Now, a qualified coach will tell you that correcting the simple problem of overstepping is not rocket science. Practice doesn’t make a man perfect, it just makes him permanent.

So, God forbid if a player is practicing the wrong technique, he’s just making matters worse for himself. Bowlers who are found guilty of chucking are the prime example of practicing the wrong skill. It’s as much their fault as it is of their respective coaches.

The role of a coach is to first identify and then nip the problem in the bud. It’s about time that our state teams, right from the age-group teams, hire professional coaches. www.cricketaakash.com