India Tour Day 2
Day 2 saw the tourists head back to Islam Gymkhana this time for a full day session in the nets.
After acclimatising yesterday, the group approached the thought of morning and afternoon practice sessions with genuine excitement and a better understanding of Indian conditions.
The morning session featured a batting against spin masterclass from resident coach Chetan Dingrah who is affectionately known as “Bollywood” because of his movie star appearance. The Indian nicknames are wonderful, while we as Australians rarely venture much past an abbreviation of first name or adding a letter to a surname, the Indians choose names that reflect the subjects appearance or mannerism or capture their character.
While resembling a Bollywood movie star, Chetan is a young coach with a wealth of knowledge. He captivated players and coaches young and old alike with his simple but very effective approach to playing spin and being flexible to adapt to conditions.
We all marvelled at his coaching prowess and abundant skill when he demonstrated skilful movement and sublime wrists in a way that only Indians seem capable of doing.
After some excellent drills and skills exploration it was time to unleash the dozen or so net bowlers all of whom are excitable anytime the ball misses the middle of the bat or happens to brush a pad.
The session included a first 15 over scenario, how to manoeuvre the field versus spin and starting an innings versus new balls.
From a coaching perspective it was great to see a young group approach the task of mastering foreign conditions with smiles and a combination of excitement and intent to explore techniques and tactical approaches. There was a determination in the group that matched the toughness of conditions.
A three hour session was followed by a break for lunch before returning to the nets for another 3 hours which featured match simulation and skill exploration when we asked each and every player to try something different be it stance, batting plan or skill execution.
While we were training we were also fortunate to be reminded of the hard work that goes into ground and wicket preparation of facilities that are used all day and by several teams and cricketers. While the constant of a beating Sun certainly helps it’s extraordinary to think that wickets are prepared in hours not days and after grass clippings, sone water and a heavy rolled pushes by humans they are ready to play again and again.
I am struck by the mastery of men who seem to understand and respect the earth and are in return rewarded with pitches that are durable and easily resurrected and provide the perfect opportunity for cricketers of all persuasion to express and expand their talent.
While the cricket standard improved and the education value is immeasurable, watching a group of young and old Aussies and English guys interact with young Indian net bowlers and each other gives me a reminder of everything that is great about this game. It links people regardless of race, religion or social standing.
For a morning and afternoon in the Mumbai heat, there were lessons learnt, laughs shared, challenges between bat and ball and another chance to learn something new.
Tomorrow is our first game and we go in carrying several promising young guys and sone not so young guys who are learning just as much against unknown opposition in conditions which couldn’t be different from our own.
It’s another day in India and a wonderful opportunity to learn, laugh and live.
And to top of our first match experience we will make our way to Wankhede to witness the IPL live.
While I have been very lucky to enjoy several IPL games live I approach this one with genuine excitement that I get to share this unforgettable life experience with a great group of people who have no idea what they are in for.
We are all fully immersed in cricket in the games Mecca and we are all loving every minute of it.