IND vs SA: Do coaches hammer home basic principles?
I watched aghast as Hardik Pandya was needlessly run out in the first innings of the second Test against South Africa
I watched aghast as Hardik Pandya was needlessly run out in the first innings of the second Test against South Africa. I wondered whatever happened to adhering to the basic principles of the game? I'm not talking about coaches developing new techniques to enhance the power hitting required in the modern game; or the tactics devised to curb the flood of runs caused by the increased boundary flow; I'm talking about simple, basic principles of the game."
These principles apply in any form of the game and ignored, they can lose games, as Pandya's brain fade may well have done. "Always ground your bat when running between wickets," it should have been one of the first things Pandya was told by a coach. There weren't many coaches when I was growing up but fortunately I had a good one who didn't ignore the basics of the game. With so many coaches available these days, I'm wondering whether it's that they don't hammer home the basic principles or the players choose to ignore them? Pandya's laziness, sloppiness, arrogance, call it whatever you want, it was unforgivable.
Basic principles like grounding your bat; not turning blind; always balancing yourself with a slight foot turn before taking a catch in the slips; these should be adhered to. If they're ignored, it's a fair bet they'll bite you on the backside at the most inopportune time. And no sooner was Pandya back in the pavilion ruing his needless error, than in another part of the world South African U-19 opener Jiveshan Pillay was out, obstructing the field. This used to be out "handled the ball" but the law has been changed. When I was nine, my father Martin was captaining a club side filled with young talent. An opposition youngster used his hand to stop the ball hitting his stumps and Martin appealed; the batsman was given out.
On the ride home Martin asked me what I thought about the decision and I replied; "It's the law, you don't stop the ball with your hand when batting." "Good," replied Martin, "I don't ever expect to see you given out that way." In all my years of playing cricket, at every level, I never — never ever — touched the ball when I was batting. Never mind the laws of the game or the pretentious Spirit of Cricket doctrine; I didn't want the wrath of Martin coming down on my head. It's like being Mankaded; if you back up properly it won't happen.
No self-education now?
Recently, I read an interview with Gary Kirsten. He talked about the role of the coach in cricket. "I think cricket's moving in that direction, in T20 cricket." My concern with the proliferation of coaches at all levels, is that cricketers will grow up relying on their advice at the expense of self-education. The best advice I received from my coach came at seven years of age: "It doesn't matter how good I am as coach," Mr Fuller told me, "The quicker you learn this game for yourself, the better off you'll be."
Which leads to another point. With the proliferation of coaches is there too much emphasis placed on physical preparation rather than spending time on the mental side of the game? Shane Warne once bemoaned being subjected to endless fielding drills prior to a day's play. "All I need," groaned Warne, "is to bowl a few balls in the nets, go back to the dressing room, have a shower, then enjoy a cup of tea and think about the batsmen I'll be facing." Pure common sense from Warne. Common sense, like basic principles is to be ignored at your peril in the game of cricket.
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