Letting a bad situation get worse

Sunil Gavaskar (left) and Brijesh Patel together can do wonders to the National Cricket Academy.-Sunil Gavaskar (left) and Brijesh Patel together can do wonders to the National Cricket Academy.

FRANK TYSON has arrived in Bangalore to conduct Level II and III courses at the National Cricket Academy and within a couple of days Darren Holder, who specialises in biomechanics would have joined him for conducting a Level III coaching course.

FRANK TYSON has arrived in Bangalore to conduct Level II and III courses at the National Cricket Academy and within a couple of days Darren Holder, who specialises in biomechanics would have joined him for conducting a Level III coaching course. The whole process of producing qualified coaches began in the summer of 2003 and the idea was to train coaches to have a certain degree of uniformity in the coaching methods implemented by the certified coaches.

Producing certified coaches to train players at the grassroots and getting the players to perform consistently was the aim of this coaching course, but sadly neither goal is effectively materialising. Many of the certified coaches who were recommended by their associations have not been given a single assignment. The worst part is that unsuccessful coaching candidates or those who either refused to undergo the certified course or were not recommended by their associations are the ones who are getting important coaching assignments.

What was the point in having coaching courses if the trained coaches were not going to be given any assignments? It was felt that with each association having five teams, BCCI needed a minimum 135 coaches for the 27 affiliated associations. The NCA, with the help of Frank Tyson, devised a syllabus for its team of instructors to visit each association and conduct the Level I course. The successful candidates were then asked to appear for the Level II coaching course. Last summer, the NCA conducted its first Level III coaching course for a fortnight and the same is happening now at Bangalore.

At the rate that these coaches are being produced in India, by 2007 India will be the only country to have thousands of Level I, II and III coaches and we still will not have replacements for Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. The NCA can't be blamed for certified coaches not getting official assignments, but shouldn't the decision makers at the NCA ask the BCCI bosses to work out some solution rather than sit around and let a bad situation get worse?

A coach who topped the Level II course at the NCA was not given any assignment for the past two years. Dinesh Nanavati, who is a Level III coach and was the Chief Coach of the West Zone academy for three years, now finds himself shunted out to make way for a cricketer who may be a more experienced and renowned former Test cricketer but, not having undergone any of the coaching courses, just doesn't fit into the NCA policy.

There is a school of thought which feels that experienced former players are better than certified coaches who tend to push too many theories in coaching players. This could be partially true but it is equally true that most of these non-certified coaches coach the way they played the game. This creates a problem when a player goes from a certified coach to a coach who has not undergone any Level course.

One cannot stop anyone from coaching but if, as a policy, only certified coaches are going to be promoted by the BCCI, then how does one explain why non-certified coaches are being preferred to certified coaches? And shouldn't there be some monitoring of the activities of the certified coaches by having a logbook? Frankly speaking, nobody seems to believe in monitoring progress.

The Talent Resources Development Wing was set up by the BCCI to unearth talent and develop it. The selected boys are trained for a month at the zonal academies and the NCA, but what happens to the trained boy in the ensuing season is something hardly anyone connected with the development aspect is bothered about. Boys who were assessed by the TRDOs as highly talented potentials and were trained at the NCA found themselves out of state teams within a couple of months. One can understand if a player is dropped after he has failed in a couple of games but not getting in the 15 in the first game after returning from NCA is a big joke.

A Mumbai cricketer scored a lot of runs and was picked for the NCA Under-17 August camp in 2003. He was not in the 15 of the state team that was selected in October. He continued to score in the local tournaments and eventually was picked for the knockout rounds after he scored 311 in the finals at the Bombay Gymkhana. The score of the opposition was 311 and this boy had a partnership of 290 for the eighth wicket.

Isn't it the job of the TRDW/NCA to monitor the progress of trained boys? This is both necessary and crucial, but it is not being done. Not more than 150 boys are trained at the NCA from May to August. The training imparted in all the aspects of the game is excellent but once the boy departs, the NCA has no information about the way he is progressing.

Last year, quite a few bowlers with suspect actions were identified by the sophisticated Silicon Coach software, but since nothing was intimated to their associations, the boys went back and continued to torment the batsmen.

If the NCA thinks its responsibility is limited to asking associations to conduct Level I coaching courses for eight months of the year, then we will never be able to find any replacements for the established stars in the Indian team. The National Cricket Academy has a definite role to play in the quality aspect of Indian cricket. It is, in fact, the quality control department of the BCCI. With the combined experience of Sunil Gavaskar and Brijesh Patel, the National Cricket Academy can do wonders only if they weed out ignorant self-important propagators of the game.