Tim David and Jim Allenby were in the same city on Sunday evening, albeit in different locations. While the Australia international grabbed all the headlines at the Wankhede Stadium, hammering three consecutive sixes in the final over to guide Mumbai Indians home against Rajasthan Royals, his coach Allenby was watching the ward’s onslaught on the giant screen of a pub in Juhu.
On a work trip, Allenby could not be at the venue to witness Mumbai Indians’ successful chase of a 200-plus target, but he was happy with the way David finished things off, true to his reputation.
Considered one of the most destructive batters in white-ball cricket, David walked out to bat at a time when Mumbai Indians was still 61 runs away from the target and it was not easy to whack some of the leading bowlers like Jason Holder and Trent Boult. But riding on all his experience, David hammered five sixes in total, en route to his 14-ball 45.
David, by his own admission, was “really hungry to finish a game like that”. As the 27-year-old brought Mumbai Indians’ dismal campaign back on track, Allenby remembered all those conversations that the two have had over the last few weeks.
Being David’s coach for the past nine years, Allenby has seen the success and failure of the Aussie power-hitter from close quarters and that’s why he understands the importance of backing a player, through thick and thin.
The two had long sessions in Perth, leading up to the IPL, but it had been quite a while since they met in person. So, when Allenby landed in Mumbai, nine days ago, one of the first things he did was catch up with his ward over some coffee and conversations.
“We caught up for a coffee when I first arrived in Mumbai, and obviously I went to the game (against Punjab Kings last week) just to say hello there. But we tend to talk more on the phone or over WhatsApp,” Allenby told Sportstar.
While those conversations usually revolve around the preparation, Allenby suggests a thing or two, if needed.
“When things are going well, it’s nice to just let it go a bit. Tim gets in touch if he needs any help. But those conversations are usually around the preparation for the game and just making sure he’s doing all the right things to give himself the best chance to perform.”
Occasionally, David sends Allenby some videos of his net sessions. “That’s handled really well by the (MI) coaching staff. But occasionally he’ll just want me to check on something and see if I have any thoughts on that,” Allenby said.
And over the last nine years, this is how the two have worked. Even when he would play for Singapore and travel the world to feature in various franchise leagues, David would connect with his coach time and again and the two would just talk for hours over all things cricket.
This time, too, before David left for the Pakistan Super League, followed by the IPL, he had a long training camp in Perth with Allenby, who’s also a former cricketer. After being away from home for quite a while due to commitments with the Australian team and the Big Bash League, Allenby’s primary objective was to keep David rejuvenated before hitting the nets.
“So, before this IPL, Tim came home (in Perth) and had a good stay for about a month. The first 10 days were probably a good break as he had been playing cricket non-stop for almost a year on end. So, when he came back to Perth, it was a nice break and had a good chance to catch up with friends and family and we had a few nice barbecues and things like that,” Allenby said.
But soon, the two were back in training.
“I know something Tim did really well when he was back in Perth this year is that he got some great structure around his training - both physical and cricket training. And we’ve managed to sort of do three or four really specific sessions in the last week he was in Perth before coming over for the PSL, prior to the IPL.”
For the coach, it was about maintaining some structure and making the ward follow some process when he would be away from home.
“After playing in so many different tournaments around the world, one of the things we have identified is trying to make sure the preparation remains the same and that process remains the same. That is really important,” he said.
“He did quite a bit of work on match preparation and then in terms of the training, just cleaning up a few technical things in the swing. He made sure his swing was nice and pure, which really was needed. And, it’s great to see how well he’s done…” the coach added.
When Mumbai Indians signed David last season, he seemed to be an automatic choice in the final XI. But in a season where Mumbai Indians struggled, David was in and out of the side in the first leg of the tournament. But this time around, he has been able to cement a place in the final XI and as David says, he is “trying to win games for Mumbai”. Whether it is communicating with the bowlers, he is “just doing what’s needed for the team”.
While that has boosted David’s confidence, in pressure situations like these, the checkpoints, set by Allenby, have also helped him immensely.
“When you are in one environment, it’s quite easy because you have the same coaches, the same facilities and the same match day preparation. But when you are playing T20 leagues around the world and certainly in the IPL, where it’s so busy and there’s so much travelling and there’s not a huge amount of time to train, it’s really important to have some key checkpoints,” Allenby said.
“You need to make sure that technically your swing and your campaign is at a level where it needs to be in order to execute, especially hitting at the death is such an innate skill. So, we just try to make sure we have two or three drills that Tim can do before each game or at the completion of each training session, just so he knows from his own point of view that he’s sort of checked off all the boxes in terms of his technical preparation.
“And then obviously here in the IPL, he’s got world-class coaches around him to help him as well. So, along with that, those technical checkpoints and mental preparations are really important for a busy guy who’s expected to be in a high-stress sort of role like he does,” Allenby said, before adding with a smile, “Good days like yesterday really make it worthwhile. But you also get bad days.”
Before setting the stage on fire at the Wankhede on Sunday, David had played a similar cameo against Delhi Capitals, where he held his nerve to seal a last-ball win. But that was about three weeks ago, and now with the tournament in its crucial phase, Mumbai Indians would expect more such innings from the Aussie power-hitter. And, in crunch times, Allenby’s checkpoints would certainly come in handy!
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