Cricket Drome, a coaching centre on the OMR, gives players an opportunity to practise on varied wickets, all under one roof

Unearthing players who can showcase their skills on different types of wickets is among the principal challenges for coaches. Cricket Drome has sought to address the issue. The facility has five turf, three matting and two concrete tracks.

For greater variety, the turf pitches comprise surfaces with grass, clay and red soil. The wickets have been made with imagination here.

On the green pitches, the batsmen will be trained to cope with seam movement. The clay tracks, favouring batters, will force bowlers to ‘think’ the batsmen out. The men with the willow will need to use their feet on red soil wickets, assisting the spinners.

The matting surfaces will enhance the back-foot play of the batsmen. The batsmen will need to essay the horizontal bat shots, the cut and the pull, here. Two of Indian cricket’s finest back-foot players, Gundappa Viswanath and Rahul Dravid, learnt much of their early cricket on the matting wickets of Bangalore.

The concrete pitches, that will offer both pace and bounce, should also strengthen the batsmen’s back-foot play. The true bounce will enable them execute strokes on both sides.

The varying wickets would help the bowlers sharpen their technique and adapt to different conditions. In other words, they will not be one dimensional.

Cricket Drome, located at Thuraipakkam on the OMR, is a well-conceived cricket facility promoted by internationals Dinesh Karthik and Subramaniam Badrinath and former India player Sridharan Sriram. Kris Srinath, the younger brother of former India captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth is the CEO, while former first-class cricketer Sunil Viswanathan is the general manager.

Given the nature of the men involved, the cricketing ambience here is unmistakable. Sriram, a level three England and Wales Cricket Board certified coach, will oversee the day-to-day coaching.

Explained Sriram, a determined left-hander with innings-building attributes, a useful left-arm spinner and a fine fielder in his time, “Given the difficulties we went through as youngsters, we want to ensure that the young cricketers coming to Cricket Drome are given the opportunity to play on every wicket.”

He added, “Giving my own example, I could play pace and movement but had difficulty coping with bounce. That was because of the pitches I was brought up on. Now, with the green, matting and concrete tracks here, the youngsters practising at the Drome would be better equipped when they move to the next level.”

Floodlit nets

Given that the cricketers could be pressed for time — Sriram felt even part-time cricketers working in IT companies or any other firm could hone their skills here — all the 10 nets are floodlit.

“The quality of the floodlights is very good. In fact, we had Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals practising here ahead of the ongoing edition. The two franchises were very happy with the pitches and the standard of the lights,” said Sriram.

The Cricket Drome has two bowling machines and one of them, Iron Mac, can simulate a bowler by altering the pace, the length and the angle. “It really challenges a batsman,” observed Sriram.

The facility has a state-of-the-art gym — the well-known S. Basu is the trainer — and a strategy room. “Video analysis will play a key role in the development of the players,” noted Sriram.

Apart from technique, Sriram spoke about mental strength and the value of preparation ahead of a contest. He stressed one-on-one sessions with the coach and the importance of instilling belief in a cricketer.

While Sriram was aware that sound fundamentals fuelled success even in the days of different formats, the coach was clear that he would not tamper with a cricketer’s natural game. “Using your feet and hitting the ball with good balance and a steady head are essential. But different things work for different cricketers and minor alterations to one’s natural technique could often be the best solution.”

Sriram elaborated, “I need to customise my coaching to the needs of the individual. I do not want to impose myself on them.”

While the work at Cricket Drome will keep him occupied, Sriram is open to the idea of coaching the Tamil Nadu cricket team some day. “That is one of my dreams,” he revealed.