Don't castigate Steve Waugh: Tyson

Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2003, 18:23 [IST]
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Don't castigate Steve Waugh: Tyson

At times, a coach's judgment of his trainee is proved wrong. What are the follies?

If a player is passed over by a coach and he turns out to be a good player, it reflects on the coach's ability. Quite often you find a player who shines at the nets and doesn't produce in the middle is deficient in some mental attribute. I refer you to C L R James - the West Indian cricket enthusiast and a political philosopher. He wrote in his book, Beyond The Boundary, you can have two players - both endowed with same degree of skill and strength, yet there is one indefinable quality, which separates the two.

One goes on to become a great player and the other remains a club player all his life. The greatness of a cricketer, he said, lies in his head. There is a lot of truth in that. If you find a player who is good in non-pressure situation you probably have a man there who lacks something in his mental attribute to become a great player. He lacks the mental strength, he lacks the mental toughness, he lacks the conscientiousness for practice, he lacks the ability to concentrate, and he lacks the various mental qualities where his mental attributes would make him a great player.

The same could be said about the fitness aspect. You might find whereas one player would work at his fitness the other wouldn't work at his fitness. So the great player is the person who combines skill 80%, mental attributes 10% and fitness 10%. The player who doesn't mature probably lacks 20%. He might have great talent, but he doesn't have fitness and he doesn't have mental strength and therefore he will never make it.

And you can look at the obverse of the coin when there have been plenty of people who have been moderately good players but mentally were giants. They were the ones who succeeded. That would account for why certain players don't become great players. Again I would say if a coach passes over a player who turns out good then something is lacking in the coach's judgment. And that's not difficult that you just pass over one point and you make a wrong decision.

What makes a good coach?

The ability to accept what a player is and to try and maximise the talents the player has got. He doesn't try and change him; he tries to mould him and encourages him to produce his best.

On all possible occasions he doesn't adopt authoritative stances; he doesn't reject the parental role; he listens; he counsels; he advises; he organises; he trains; he supervises; he is all things to all men & he teaches. I think in all situations he has got to communicate. Anybody who has no communication skills will never succeed as a coach.

Former cricketers from across the country are attending this seminar (Level II coaches seminar - Bangalore). How is it going?

This is the third seminar and it is going very successfully. They have been very receptive. Some of the achievements have been put before them. It is a level II course based on the former level II syllabus of the ACB. It is just the beginning. As the years go by we may have to modify and make it better but the coaches here are accepting the information put before them. They are accepting the philosophy that having played doesn't necessarily make you a good coach.

"I played therefore I coach" is a very outmoded philosophy. Just because you were or are a good player doesn"t make you a good coach. This is my main message that is coming through. Hopefully I am anticipating that we are going to get some high- standard coaches who can hold on to international jobs.

I am looking forward to a time when an Indian coach is appointed to an overseas job in the same way as an overseas coach is appointed an Indian job. It is becoming a trans-national sort of thing isn't it, with the Australians going to Bangladesh and to Sri Lanka, an Englishman going to South Africa and a New Zealander coaching India.

I am hoping we will produce a qualified Indian coach who will be worthy of his salt and give him a requisite salary to coach an overseas side.

What is your methodology for this level II seminar and exam?

There are many methodologies that we are using. The communication area, the physiology area, I suppose the biomechanical area is probably the most crucial at the present moment. The one that we are using in this and the preceding seminars has been the self-discovery method of learning where players learn by investigating the skills and the techniques employed by successful cricketers, to observe what the crucial cricketing phases of each skill are and this we are doing by means of workshops.

We are going into the gym and into the indoor nets and we are experimenting and investigating the skills that have previously been accepted without question. Like if you are playing spinners always head with the spin. In fast bowling we look at the use of the short lever or the long lever in the bowling action with a degree of acceleration in the run up and try and see which is the most effective in the workshop situation.

In slow bowling you see whether in fact the ability to produce flight and loop holds to the philosophy of top spin, does the top spin produce the loop or it is just the elasticity of the wicket and the steepness of the balls descent and so on. This is just the self-discovery method and one of the many methods we use.

How do you evaluate and what is the minimum required for passing this exam?

Well it has been a problem. We evaluate in three main areas. One is the theoretical area, which is the knowledge of the theory, the biomechanical, the physiology, the skill acquisition, the growth and development, the psychology areas.

All these are tested by written theory test in addition to which we are also examining the ability to identify and correct faults by analysis on video tape and also evaluating them in the practicals by bringing them a group of boys to coach for a period of 20 minutes and asking them to teach the boys a skill and therefore examining the knowledge of that skill, their communication and demonstration skills, organisational skills and so on.

It has not been easy as the weather has not been very good. We like very much a situation where we could give them an hour to coach in the nets but with 40 people that would take very long time. That is how we are doing at the present moment. Not perfect but that's as far as we can make it.

The pass marks are subjective. We are still observing a 50% pass but that of course will be after standardisation of marks. We need to standardise groups of marks as very good pass, just pass, failure, very bad failure and so on.

Brijesh Patel's role in developing cricket in India through these seminars. Comments

He is doing a marvellous job with the mofussil schemes that he has got going and he is behind this series of seminars. What he is aiming to achieve through these seminars, where people are coming from all over the country, is the standardisation of coaching in India. It is no good one group of coaches teaching one thing and another group contradicting. We need to have all coaches teaching the same thing. This is why we are running these seminars so that coaches will go away with a concept of what they should teach, what are the scientific methods they should adopt.

The number of coaches we are training will obviously help fulfil Brijesh Patel's ambition of providing standardised coaching across this vast country. If you look at India and ask a question how are we going to bring coaching to the vast number of children in India who want coaching; who need coaching; who request coaching, the only way you are going to do is by increasing the number of coaches. You cannot bring hundreds of thousands of children to one centre, one coach or one group of coaches. You need to cover a larger area with more number of coaches. This is Brijesh Patel's dream and ambition.

How are the facilities at the KSCA/NCA? What else is required at this centre?

They are very good. Good indoor centre. It would be rather presumptuous of me to suggest anything but I think there is a possibility to extend the indoor facility here, which may be of use during the wet season. Bangalore is lucky as the weather is not too bad.

How does it compare with ACB?

The ACB has ploughed quite a lot of money into the Australian Commonwealth Bank Academy in Adelaide. They have got about six or seven indoor nets. They have quite a large number of turf nets both on the number one ground and the number two ground. They have gymnastic facilities down the Henley beach. They are good but they are a good fifteen kilometres from Adelaide.

The Henley beach is the accommodation and lecture area in that sense it is not an advantage and it is far better here as it is more central and it does not require an hour to get to the nets or from one centre to another. The ACB is further along the line in development as they have been in existence for more than 20 years and running smoothly for that length of time.

Where else is professional certificate course held?

There is going to be an alteration within the ACB's coaching system. They are probably going to gravitate more towards providing coaching courses. There is going to be a level one course which is going to be a pure recreational, modified games sort of course for primary school teachers to teach the under 10s. Parallel to that will be a junior development course, where they are going to produce coaches who have qualifications and who sat for an exam and are qualified to train technique to children between 10 and 14 and finally a senior development course for senior grade cricketers.

From this they will draw the high performance coaches who will train the elite teams. The ACB is looking at training the coaches to fulfil the employment opportunities that lie further along the track. I think they were finding that there was duplication between level II and level III courses where a lot of theoretical material used in level II was being repeated in level III. After all there is only a certain amount of information that level II and level III coaches need and training beyond that will be taking them into areas of very very elite status of almost a graduate diploma in physical education.

I would emphasise that syllabus for the courses, which will be developed along those lines, should be adaptable for specific use.

Can a successful candidate make a living from cricket coaching?

I don't know in India, but ECB in England and the ACB in Australia employ coaches in the coaching and development side. In Australia, I know each state employs about 30 coaching and development officers and I also know that there is an elite dozen coaching first class cricketers. In Melbourne there are player-coaches involved with various clubs but they don't earn more than five to six thousand dollars.

What according to you is the best initial movement for a batsman?

Back and across.

But there are disagreements on this.

Sure. There will be disagreements and variations but then again you got to look at those disagreements and variations and then ask them why? If anybody questions the methods that are being taught I would then ask them to explain to me why they don"t believe in it and why they think their method is better. Simply put, as far as back and across is concerned, it is an initial movement to dispel the inertia to get the batsman moving before the ball is released bearing in mind that it is just 4.8 milliseconds between the release of the ball and its arrival at the batting end and you got to start moving before the ball is released against the express bowlers. Therefore, to get rid of inertia you got to make an initial movement.

If you move on to the frontfoot, your weight is going forward and it is very difficult to dispel that forward momentum. Like a ship at sea, you cannot seem to put it into reverse; you cannot go back if the ball is short. If you are playing back, your momentum is just slightly back, but by transferring your weight from backfoot to frontfoot you are forward again. And if you want to take a further step back it is easier to go back again. That sort of logic I would use to dispel that sort of philosophy. If they disagree I tell them, prove it. They have to prove it to me that their way is the best way of doing it. Answer the question 'why' and I will believe you.

Coach A says play more cricket for improvement and coach B says limit yourself or you will burn out. Comment

There is no point going to the nets for six hours and not putting in quality practice. It is far better to go to the nets for one hour of quality practice. Half- hearted and imperfect practice is detrimental. Standard is more important than outcome. Process is more important than outcome. It is the work you put in. How intensely you work that is crucial to what quality you work up to.

The "Typhoon" signed off with a 'perfect practice' advice. His knowledge, which is the result of long years of experience and an in-depth study of the game, his skills of communication and presentation and his passion and devotion are beyond compare. Thanks to Brijesh Patel and the BCCI, we are enjoying the privilege of learning from this great Cricket Guru.

Tyson seemed to reserve his best for Australia and was at his best on the Australian tour of 1954-55 when he took 28 wickets at an amazing average of 20.

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