Waking up to an alarm in your hotel room and dashing out early in the morning for a mundane, grilling training session is something every cricketer would dread. With the sun beating down at Perth and temperatures hovering over 30 degree celsius, it’s certainly not the best conditions to train.
But had you walked in on Indian Team’s training session on Wednesday at the WACA, Perth, you would’ve been caught off-guard. The men in blue were employed in a new and innovative set of training techniques. The idea was to sprinkle a liberal amount of novelty so that the men in blue would find the session engaging.
Training sessions usually cover hitting the nets as a primary task. However, on Wednesday, the trainers focussed on a 75-minute fielding session alone. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who’s still recovering from his injury, would have found such an idea less taxing.
In the entire session, there were two techniques that really caught the on-lookers’ attention: ‘dummy catch’ and ‘fielding match’, as a PTI report states.
The new ‘Dummy catch’ training
More often than not, one would see a coach throwing balls from different angles, using a tennis racquet. The purpose is to improve reflexes of the players while catching powerful shots from a close range. However, assistant coach Sanjay Bangar added a bit of tweak to the proceedings.
‘Dummy catch&rsqrsquo;, as it’s called, is a method in which the players are made to stand one behind the other. Bangar would hit the ball with the racquet and the first player on the queue would run forward, trying to catch it, but then duck at the last minute. The player behind him, who now has only seconds to react, would then have to do the catching. The first player here acts like a dummy.
The height and the force of the hit may vary. The aim of this technique is to make the slip fielders agile and ready for the sharp edges that come in suddenly at a great force after a cut shot is played.
The player who handles this distraction technique cleanly is deemed to have passed the test. Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli did a good job during this session.
The all-new ‘Fielding match’
‘Dummy catch’ was followed by the new ‘fielding match’. This is unlike the conventional ‘pick up and direct hit’ practice, neither was it about just one player being made to practice his aims at the stumps, but was made up as a team game where one team competes against the other team.
One team will have relatively better fielders like Raina, Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan, while the other includes Ashwin, Umesh Yadav and Jadeja (who was the weaker team’s only strength).
It was creatively arranged in such a fashion that the two teams of eight had to stand parallel to each other 10 meters apart. The two assistant coaches, Bangar and R Sridhar, instead of throwing to the group in front, threw diagonally to the other group and the players would then have to do hits at the stumps.
As was expected, the team comprising Kohli and Co won this contest.
Taking these sessions in the right spirit, both the teams did entertain each other by exchanging some friendly banter during the contest and sharing some lighter moments.
Indian players have been in good shape on the field in both their World Cup matches so far. They have kept up the intensity, be it in short catches or sending in throws from the deep or direct-hits. Such innovative training sessions are definitely adding value to their current fielding form.