‘Dedicated coaches are the need of the hour’

Holding court... Former India batsman V.V.S. Laxman interacts with the young trainees of the ACA's Central Zone Academy at Mangalagiri in Guntur District.-CH. VIJAYA BHASKAR

He came, he inaugurated, and he won the hearts of young cricketers with his humility and down-to-earth behaviour. Former Test cricketer V. V. S. Laxman was the cynosure at the inaugural function of the Andhra Cricket Association’s Central Zone academy at Mangalagiri, near Vijayawada.

While appreciating the commitment of the ACA administrators in promoting the game through academies at Vizianagaram, Kadappa and Mangalagiri, Laxman underlined the crucial role of a coach in academies and said that state of the art infrastructure alone cannot produce talented cricketers.

“The need of the hour is quality and dedicated coaches to prepare cricketers for different formats of the game. Each format — Test, ODI and T20 — requires specialised skills,” he said.

“All the three academies have indoor cricket stadiums with bowling machines. Rain or shine, day or night, players can train and gain immensely,” said former India wicketkeeper M. S. K. Prasad, who is now the director of cricketing operations.

Interacting with the first batch of cricketers, Laxman revealed many interesting facets of M. S. K. Prasad. “He shifted from Guntur to Hyderabad because of lack of facilities in his hometown. Practising cricket was hard those days. Now as ACA director, he (Prasad) has brought all the facilities in one place for you. Make use of them,” he advised the trainees.

The news of the selection of Ricky Bhui of Vizag to the Indian under-19 team for a triangular series Down Under, brought smiles to the faces of the ACA administrators.

Amidst photo sessions and signing of autographs, Laxman spoke to the first batch of 35 players, asking them to follow the instructions of their coach meticulously and assess their learning process by maintaining a diary.

He also answered with aplomb questions such as ‘What is your advice to tail-enders while playing with them in the middle?’ and ‘What is the secret of your good performances against strong teams like Australia?’

For a while, Laxman also donned the role of a quizmaster and asked the trainees what was the most difficult ball faced by a tail-ender. “Bouncer”, screamed M. P. Bharat, aged 13, much to the delight of the Padma Shri award winner.

“When I visit Vijayawada or Guntur, I will make it a point to visit your academy,” Laxman said before signing off.

J. R. Shridharan