Artificial pitches, sudden noises help NZ prepare
In a desperate bid to break their dismal track record in India, New Zealand team management has devised innovative and unconventional ways of training to counter Indian conditions during their upcoming cricket Test series.
Loose soil on artificial pitches to create uneven bounce, bowlers delivering from 15 metres away, shining lights and sudden noises in the background and clusters of mock fieldsmen in the nets are some of the methods to be used by the team when it assembles for a camp at New Zealand Cricket's high performance centre in Christchurch next week.
These unconventional training methods are aimed at pushing the players out of their comfort zones and gearing them up for the challenges ahead.
Interim coach Ashley Ross, to whom the credit goes for devising the training techniques, said he was leaving no stone unturned to prepare the team for the tour of India, where even the formidable Australians led by Steve Waugh could not win a series two years ago.
"We are mindful of creating as many stresses as possible so as to help the players adapt to these stresses and in a way innoculate themselves.
"We are trying to tick off every box so that we're best prepared, and there are no excuses come October 8 (day one of the first Test in Ahmedabad)," he was quoted as saying by a New Zealand website.
Ross, who will carry the "caretaker" tag between the departure of Denis Aberhart and the December arrival of John Bracewell, is determined to make an impact during the tour.
"New Zealand have toured there seven times and never come away with a series win. (But) I don't see that as an impediment, I see that as lighting people up," said the 40-year old Ross.
"I would have much greater issues if we were going to a place where we were expected to win," the coach said.
Ross, who was earlier the New Zealand Cricket's technical advisor as also Aberhart's deputy, said he was excited about the tour and during his short stint as coach he could not have expected for anything better.
"It is the greatest challenge you could have and I couldn't have asked for a better five months to take the team," he said.
New Zealand's showing in Sri Lanka in April-May, when it drew the two-Test series 0-0 against Sri Lanka was encouraging for the new coach.
"It showed how far our players have moved in terms of their ability to play, and survive in those conditions. Our Asian touring skills are extremely good now."
During their series in India New Zealand will play two Test matches and a triangular one-day series also involving world champions Australia.
The Kiwis will be missing the services of main strike bowler Shane Bond, who is recovering from an injury and star all-rounder Chris Cairns, whose wife is expecting the couple's second child. Cairns, however, has been picked for the one-day leg of the tour.