Arrival of the Personal Coach

Updated: 26 December 2014 16:54 IST

Years ago Sourav Ganguly spent time with Greg Chappell in Australia (when they were still on talking terms) and immediately scored a hundred in Brisbane on a lively pitch. Recently, top Indian cricketers have started working with their own coaches and the most well known case is that of Pravin Amre.

Ganguly Chappell Yuvraj
Greg Chappell's batting tips helped Sourav Ganguly combat the pace and bounce in Brisbane to score his first Test hundred Down Under.

© AFP

As cricket becomes more professional and commercial, it is inevitable that the change is accompanied by fresh thought and new methods. Not long ago the captain relinquished some authority to accommodate a coach, a watered down version of the football supremo. Little later teams embraced, again in football fashion, an extensive army of support staff.

This trend has now taken another step forward with the arrival of the personal coach. Years ago Sourav Ganguly spent time with Greg Chappell in Australia (when they were still on talking terms) and immediately scored a hundred in Brisbane on a lively pitch. Recently, top Indian cricketers have started working with their own coaches and the most well known case is that of Pravin Amre. The former India player (he scored a hundred in Durban on his Test debut ) played for five Ranji sides and coached Mumbai for five seasons. He is the pioneer of this one-on-one high quality tuition.

Apparently what he does works. Amre has contributed to Robin Uthappa's recent resurgence and Ajinkya Rahane's emergence and helped fix Suresh Raina's issues with the short ball.

Individual coaching in a team sport does not sit well with some but others think it is a natural development as cricket becomes more competitive. From a player's perspective hiring a personal coach is an investment similar to a bright student taking guidance, in addition to his school teachers, from an outside expert to crack an important exam.

With careers and contracts at stake, the anxiety of players to get the extra edge that keeps them ahead of competition is understandable. Players turn to a cricket guru for focussed attention because this is not always posible in the regular team environment.

Amre, a qualified Level 3 coach, says he has no magical 'fix it' formula but follows a scientific method learnt through serious study and years of experience. The key, he says, is to not disturb the natural style, the base, but strengthen technique in a way that it adapts to different conditions. He also talks of a holistic approach to coaching where the body (fitness) and mind (mental strength) are closely aligned with technique (batting skills) to produce results.

In days to come more cricketers will seek out experts/past players to tweak their game and iron out technical glitches to reach the next level. But will cricket go the way of golf and tennis where players are assisted by full time travelling personal coaches? Unlikely that Virat works with Dravid or Rohit with Laxman but don't rule out the possibility of top players going to experts for refresher courses.

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