Indian badminton will forever be indebted to these two humble unassuming champions, not just for the glory they brought to the country when they were playing, but also for setting up academies to hone and nurture young talent
Prakash Padukone (left) and Pullela Gopichand. File pic/Atul Kamble
Even as most cricket lovers are consumed by which teams are going to join the Gujarat Titans in the playoffs of the IPL, the Indian men’s badminton team have made history by reaching the finals of the Thomas Cup.
They play Indonesia in the finals and because the venue is Thailand and the matches start well before the IPL starts, it is hoped that the cricket lovers will reserve a bit of their prayers for their favourite franchises to pray for the success of our badminton team.
How well has our badminton progressed ever since those two champions, the incomparable Prakash Padukone and the industrious Pullela Gopichand set up academies to hone and nurture young talent.
When they were playing, none of these facilities, training methods or guidance was easily available. They learnt and did it on their own, and now after having finished playing, they have set up these institutions which are making more and more Indians win overseas than ever before.
Indian badminton will forever be indebted to these two humble unassuming champions not just for the glory they brought to the country when they were playing, but also for the yeoman service they are doing in helping youngsters go through their paces and preparing them for the harder tougher contests ahead.
Uday Pawar’s dedication
There are others too like Uday Pawar, another stalwart who has dedicated his life to coaching youngsters and many others, men and women, who may not have won the Nationals, but have played at the top level and are now passing on their experience to the youngsters.
In cricket too, the summer holidays mean coaching camps and in Mumbai, if one takes a look at the maidans and open grounds all over this cricket mad city, you will find youngsters going through the grind under the stern yet friendly eye of their coach. Many of these coaches have not even played at the Ranji level, but they do a terrific job in giving the youngsters the opportunity to showcase their talent. They are also the famous Mumbai cricketing grapevine through which news of a potential Tendulkar or the next Rohit Sharma comes through.
Hail the maidan journalists
There are also many journalists who sometimes only cover the ‘maidan beat’ and they too make an incredible contribution in spotting talent and informing the selectors about them. One of the redeeming features of these coaches is how they inculcate in their wards some of the finer points of the game. Grounding and dragging the bat in while completing a run, shouting ‘mine’ when a catch goes up in the air between two fielders, backing up for a possible overthrow, watching the bowler release the ball before stepping out of the crease at the non-strikers end, are just some which are par for the course in Mumbai coaching.
So even though they may not always be able to coach the technicalities of the game and so let the player play his natural way, the finer points are drilled in relentlessly, so they become second nature and standard practice in a match.
Speaking of coaches, congratulations to Brendon McCullum for being appointed the England cricket team’s red-ball coach. There’s no doubt that the England team following the New Zealand template of one-day cricket that McCullum, as New Zealand skipper had set, is the main reason why their one-day fortunes turned around so swiftly after their disastrous ICC World Cup in 2015 when they couldn’t even qualify for the knockout stage.
Aces and chases
That New Zealand were also touring England immediately after that campaign helped as England matched the Kiwis stroke for audacious stroke and it was probably one of the most exciting one-day series where 300-plus scores were the norm and chased down by England to win the series. So it won’t be a surprise if the combo of Stokes and McCullum takes England’s red-ball cricket to heights hitherto unseen and in the process have crowds flocking the stadiums in droves to watch the ‘new’ England cricket team.
Professional Management Group