Indian cricket has enjoyed a longstanding association with Hyderabad, boasting exceptional players like Ghulam Ahmed, ML Jaisimha, and more recently, VVS Laxman. Continuing this legacy, Mohammed Siraj and the young Tilak Varma uphold Hyderabad’s influence among the current cricketers. Beyond individual players, the state team has significantly contributed to another aspect—fielding—over the past decade.
Notably, the last two fielding coaches for India, R. Sridhar and T. Dilip, hail from this region. Their contributions have played a pivotal role in elevating India into a vastly improved side on the field.
The striking disparity in their career trajectories and paths to success is what makes this coincidence truly remarkable.
Sridhar, a well-established state cricketer, contributed as a left-arm spinner for the team in the nineties, accumulating 35 First-Class (FC) and 15 List A appearances during his playing career. The unexpected transition to the role of a fielding coach occurred in 2008.
While participating in an India A holistic coaching programme at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), the academy brains trust, which included Ravi Shastri, Bharat Arun, and Dav Whatmore, entrusted him with the responsibility of becoming a fielding coach—a role he has since mastered.
“Sometimes we don’t make those decisions; it just happens,” said Sridhar in a conversation with Sportstar. “After being called to the NCA, I did my part to get better at it and learn and improve.”
“It’s a myth in sports that you have to be good at something to coach that. Being an agile and fit fielder in no way helped me become a better fielding coach,” Sridhar said.
“It is the communication and trust I developed with the players and the information and solutions I gave, which helped them improve their fielding, that helped me develop as a coach,” he added.
Conversely, Dilip ascended the ranks without any First-Class (FC) experience, challenging the age-old notion that one must play cricket at the highest level to excel as a coach.
His journey commenced as an assistant fielding coach in the lower echelons of the youth age categories in Hyderabad. Dilip then honed his coaching skills at the NCA, guiding various age groups before eventually assuming the role of the national team’s fielding coach.
“He’s been exceptional. He’s worked very hard to get there. He was sure of what he wanted right from the beginning, which is a huge credit to him,” said Sridhar about Dilip.
“He’s come through the system. He’s been patient, putting in the hard yards, and when he became the coach, he was ready for it,” he added.
The success of Sridhar and Dilip has inspired the next set of fielding coaches in Hyderabad, including the current state fielding coach, Ronald Roy Rodrigues.
Ronald’s narrative introduces a third perspective, where his on-field brilliance served as the catalyst for his initial foray into coaching. He was a gun fielder during his playing days and has represented Hyderabad six times in List A cricket.
“I started with one-on-one sessions with senior players, and that’s how I got to be a fielding coach. Most of them were not interested in Hyderabad when I wanted to get into it [fielding coaching],” Ronald said.
After spending time at Laxman’s academy, Ronald completed his coaching levels at NCA before moving on to the Hyderabad age-group teams to further his coaching career.
Most of the players that Ronald worked with during his Hyderabad U19 days have now graduated to the main team, including Tilak, who has impressed on the field during his stint in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Indian team.
The Hyderabad team’s fielding in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy under Ronald was appreciated by the legendary Jonty Rhodes during his scouting trip across the country for IPL side Lucknow Super Giants.
“It’s never wrong to dream,” Ronald said about his India ambitions. “Looking at Sridhar sir and Dilip, I was also motivated to see that both the fielding coaches are from Hyderabad. Not now, but even in the future, if there is an opportunity to work with bigger teams, it would be a great opportunity.”
With NCA providing the environment and facilities to develop as a fielding coach, Ronald hopes he can continue his ascendance and follow in the footsteps of his predecessors.
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