How to train best for national duty

By Muhammad Asif Khan

The game of cricket has taken a lot of turns for betterment since its birth because the administrators have kept on pushing for innovations.

Among the modern introductions, coaching staff for a team is also considered as a must. Almost all the teams now have a set of professional coaches and trainers.

Unlike yesteryears, this department is taken care of very seriously and relevant qualification ñ coaching courses, etc. ñ is seen as mandatory for the individuals chosen for the different jobs.

The question is: if the world is doing this, why shouldn’t the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)?

But first we must understand the idea behind having separate coaches. Other teams are doing fine with this methodology but why heavy duty coaches have not been able to deliver in Pakistan?

From Richard Pybus, Bob Woolmer, Geoff Lawson to Dev Whatmore and Julian Fountain the end result has not been satisfactory. Why, what is the reason for it?

If a player, even after reaching the top level, does not know the basics of the game then there are two possible issues to confront with. Either the domestic structure is not producing quality players or the selection process is not transparent. Or there might be a third possible reason: probably we are not putting the right persons at the right places.

And this third possibility is exactly the point I would like to make here.

Can a coach alter the technique of a 100-match veteran overnight? It seems next to impossible, so the purpose of having an expensive coach is not well served.

There can be no comparison between Pakistan and other top cricket playing countries because all those have competitive domestic structures, in which the issues related to fitness and techniques are taken care of adequately. Players there are mature enough before entering the international arena.

The Pakistani authorities directly expose a good domestic performer to the international pressure which, at times, has an adverse effect on the otherwise talented youngster.

In my opinion, the short-term solution to this issue is the revival of the junior level outfits such as the A and B teams, which should be provided with foreign trips so that they have international exposure of a sort.

In the long run, there should be a system put in place to fix problems beforehand by putting a talented bunch at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) prior to their inclusion in the national side.

At this penultimate stage qualified coaches should be available to these players.

This penultimate phase should have a bunch of outstanding domestic performers or under-19 players who should be put to rigorous training and groomed on technical lines.

The coaches at this level should be assigned a duty to grade the players on the basis of their ability, and performance during the training.

This way, the boys will get motivated to do well, and the end result will definitely be in Pakistan’s favour.

I am personally not in favour of appointing a heavy duty coach with the national team only, because at that stage one could not do much with players’ techniques. But, yes, a man who can guide the captain and player in formulating a strategy should accompany the boys.

A strategist, planner or an analyst should be there for the tune-up along with a competent trainer who could help the players in maintaining top class fitness which is the foremost requirement of the modern era.

With these arrangements, the selectors for the national team would have a trained individual who can replace any injured or out-of-form player in the top team. Moreover, the rotation policy will also be effective with this liberty of having a large group of trained players. We will have more than eleven players ready to represent the team at the top level.

We have a lot of talent in the country, but the transition phase is where the problem lies. Therefore if the best of coaches are placed at the above mentioned penultimate phase, it will help rectify the players’ imperfections before they put their steps into the international arena.

 
 
The writer is a sports journalist in Pakistan, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif
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