Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Switchblade

The Raman effect: Building a hi-spec assembly line of India cricketers

Recommended Posts

Quote

https://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/104557/the-raman-effect-building-a-hi-spec-assembly-line-of-india-cricketers-wv-raman-prithvi-shaw-shubman-gill

"There is a reason why the Indian Under-19 boys are a lot better than those from other countries of the same age," Greg Chappell had said towards the end of August, when he was in India with the Australia A limited-overs side for a quadrangular series. "They play a lot more matches, and by the time they come to a tournament like the (Under-19) World Cup, they have no stage-fright. They don't get overawed."

 

 

The former Australian captain knows a thing or two about the Indian system, having coached the national team between 2005 and 2007. He also witnessed, first-hand, the abundance of talent in the Indian ranks at the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year, when Prithvi Shaw's team destroyed all-comers with a commanding display to emulate the class of 2000 (under Mohammad Kaif), the batch of 2008 (with Virat Kohli as skipper) and the champs of 2012 (led by Unmukt Chand).

 

 

The success of successive India U-19 squads is no accident, but especially since 2015, junior cricket in the country has received a shot in the arm with Rahul Dravid taking over as the coach. Dravid has been a vociferous advocate of the U-19 level being less about results and more about preparing the young lads for the far stiffer challenges ahead. He is also among the prime movers behind getting the U-19 boys to play duration cricket in bilateral series.

 

 

Dravid's additional responsibility as India A coach has necessitated Woorkeri Raman to step in as the U-19 coach whenever the need has arisen. Raman recently oversaw the Asia Cup triumph in Bangladesh, having previously travelled with the team during the successful one-day and four-day tours of Sri Lanka. In the summer of 2017, Raman had been in charge during the clean sweep in England across formats, Himanshu Rana leading the side to a 2-0 victory in the Youth 'Tests' and Shaw orchestrating a 5-0 rout in the one-day series.

 

 

The batting coach at the National Cricket Academy, Raman agrees that the processes that are in place help the youngsters immeasurably. "By the time they get to the U-19 level, they are all fairly experienced," he points out. "They start playing representative cricket by the time they are 15, if not at 14. Then, they play at the U-16 level. The best part is that they play the longer duration version as well, where the skills will be tested, but also their patience, endurance and mental strength. Consequently, if they want to move on to the next level, they have no other option but to improve their skills in the four-day format. In 2-3 seasons, they gain enough experience, and therefore they have a definite advantage over players from other countries in the same age group."

 

 

India U-19 sides of late have had swagger but not arrogance, belief but not cockiness. To Raman, that is the standout feature of the various different U-19 teams he has marshalled. The personnel might change, but the attitude and the mindset remain unaltered. "The confidence levels that they have, it is quite exceptional," says Raman. "That is the byproduct of having played quite a lot of cricket in the preceding years. Also, being constantly monitored by the selectors, getting into NCA camps and being aware that the word is spreading about them, they all help. They also realise that they are going to be sure of getting opportunities - everybody gets chances, whether at home or on tour, which is a massive encouragement."

 

 

Raman concurs that there is a conscious effort to expose the lads to the longer duration format so that there is no compromise on basics, among other things. "It's primarily the 50-over format that is prevalent at the U-19 level, because that is the format at the World Cup. It therefore doesn't make sense not to have it. And in any case, you would rather ease them into the shortest format (T20) at U-19 rather than U-16. Sooner or later, someone will play in the IPL. And then there is the World Cup. But the idea in the last couple of years is to have four-day games as part of every bilateral series for their holistic development. It is important for them to play more four-day games; I believe the mix of four-day and 50-over matches is managed well."

 

 

The turnover rate from U-19 to senior cricket isn't overwhelming. While Shaw is a notable recent exception who has followed in the illustrious footsteps of Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and obviously Kohli, a vast percentage of the U-19 stars have struggled to make the transition up to the next stage. "That's a big challenge, yes," the former India opener acknowledges. "The players have to realise that if you achieve big things at the U-19s, yes, you will get noticed and your talent will be recognized. That is testified by the way they perform.

 

 

"But what should be borne in mind is that it is just the start of the journey. Once they are past the U-19 stage, there is a bigger field ahead. They will be competing with guys who are already doing well, who are far more experienced, for places in the state sides. They won't be handled with kid gloves any longer, they are part of the bigger jungle among men. They are no longer boys, but men among men. How they measure up, how they step up becomes crucial. Also vitally important is how quickly they are released into the senior sides. If they don't break in quickly or don't get broken in soon, things can suddenly become difficult for them to handle. That transition period is a tricky one not only for the players in questions, but also for the people who are handling them. It's a two-way street, they need to take a call on when to give them a break. That's a very delicate decision-making situation."

 

 

It becomes imperative for the coaches at the U-19 level, Dravid and Raman primarily, to educate and enlighten the teenagers on the life that lies beyond that grade. "What you convey to them, it has got to be very delicately balanced," Raman says. "You have to make them realise that it is the start of the journey, but you also must let them know that the transition to the next higher grade is not the most impossible thing. These kids come from different backgrounds, from different cultures, so you need to approach each one of the individuals differently. In some cases, you point out why it might not be easy to break in to the Ranji Trophy side immediately, because his state might already have a fantastic line-up. The coaches then must decide what to take off the shelf to put in a fantastic new product. And the players have to be told that they need to keep at it, that they need to keep their motivation levels high and keep performing so that they grab their chances with both hands when the opportunity arises."

 

 

The channels of communication between the national coaches, and those in charge of senior state teams, have exponentially opened up in recent times. Without seeking to influence selection panels, Dravid and Raman offer insights into individuals, particularly with regard to their preparedness for the next step. "Communication keeps happening with state units, there are a lot of interactions with them," Raman reveals. "We tell them when we think a guy is ready, though selection is their call. The flow and exchange of information is a continuous process. A lot of state managements talk to Rahul and me, which is a very healthy sign. The other pleasing thing is that a lot of young guys who have been fast-tracked into first-class cricket are doing well, which enhances the confidence of the states in this process."

 

 

Raman himself is a product of the U-19 system, and is ideally placed to talk about the changes from his days, more than three and a half decades back, to now. "Because of the frequency of the U-19 series, they are obviously exposed to different oppositions and different conditions. That by itself is great preparation. There used to be one kind of cricketers that did well when the opposition carried a lot of familiar faces, but was not comfortable when they played players of whom they didn't know much. But these guys today are prepared; that big pitfall or threshold barrier, they don't have to cross that.

 

 

"Also, the fact that players know they have more matches in which to showcase their skills is a huge plus. That is going to make them feel at ease. Some 15-20 years back, when the tours were far fewer, some players went an entire series without getting a single game. Today, they know that they will get a break, that they are in the scheme for the forthcoming series, be it at home or away. The programming is such that in the next 12 months, there will be 3-4 series, so the player doesn't have to worry about having limited chances to catch the eye. When that pressure is lifted, it is a whole different ball game. What they make of the opportunities is up to them, but they know that they are not just going to be there as passengers. That is half the battle won."

 

 

Captaincy at the junior grades is a tricky exercise. Coaches often tend to lead by remote control, but Raman is a firm believer that leaders must be encouraged to be themselves, even if that means the odd mistake or two. "I for one believe they should be led to take their own decisions," he insists. "They must be allowed to make their own mistakes, and the rectifications can later on. Once that is brought to their attention, they will not repeat the error. What they pick up by being allowed to learn on their own will last a lifetime. I am not a great fan of spoon-feeding them; if they have to learn hard lessons, so be it."

 

 

There has been a steady stream of impressive spinners - Siddharth Desai and Harsh Tyagi, the two left-armers, spearheaded India's Asia Cup success. Raman, himself a no mean left-arm spinner in his formative years before back injuries forced him to put that discipline in cold storage, is evidently delighted at the resources at the team's disposal. "It is definitely good to see young spinners play a big role. Not just in the Asia Cup, but also in England (last year) and Sri Lanka as well in four-day games. Let's face it - if we are talking about protecting the longer version, we need spinners to be coming through. Otherwise, Test cricket can't survive. It's also good to know that youngsters are willing to bowl spin in an era where it is easy to believe that there is no place for spin, given the profusion of limited-overs cricket. That's a great sign, that we have a lot of young spinners around the country."

 

Share this post


Link to post

More exchange programs with England, where young batsmen learn to play the moving ball from a young age, is something I would like to see.

 

Pacers too learn to bowl more attacking lines and lengths when the ball is moving a bit.

Share this post


Link to post

Good heart-warming article.

It's good to see few good men who genuinely care about the welfare of Indian cricket without any hidden agenda.

 

Just look at the contrast between Dravid the coach and  8 Crore Cheerleading Queen Head Coach of Men's team. Greatest scam in the history of Indian cricket. Makes my blood boil at the brat who got rid of Kumble.

Share this post


Link to post
Good heart-warming article.
It's good to see few good men who genuinely care about the welfare of Indian cricket without any hidden agenda.
 
Just look at the contrast between Dravid the coach and  8 Crore Cheerleading Queen Head Coach of Men's team. Greatest scam in the history of Indian cricket. Makes my blood boil at the brat who got rid of Kumble.
Don't worry all these junior cricketers will become clowns after they graduate to the senior team.



Sent from my CPH1609 using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

Guest, sign in to access all features.

×