In the city for a brief coaching stint at Cricket Drome, Englishman Peter Wellings took time off to chat about his interest in fostering a love for the game, especially in kids and young adults

One of the things defining new-age sports coaching is the obsessive attention to detail, a technology-driven, scientific approach that involves sweating over specifics. Peter Wellings is pretty much a non-conformist, trading the textbooks for his own style of coaching.

The Englishman was in the city recently for a four-day coaching programme at Cricket Drome, the facility promoted by cricketers Dinesh Karthik, S. Badrinath, and S. Sriram.

A late entrant to cricket, Wellings made his First-Class debut for Middlesex at the age of 26. After two years of playing for the county — a six-match career that fetched him 378 runs at an average of 47.25 — the Wolverhampton-born batsman decided it was time to halt his playing career. “When I finished my last year in Middlesex in 1997, I knew my heart was not in it. I thought, ‘Crikey! What am I going to do with my life?’ I knew then that I wanted to be a cricket coach. It was what I loved doing and I thought I had an aptitude for it,” says Wellings.

Setting up an academy

It resulted in the formation of Coaching Cricket Excellence, an academy based in West London, in May 1998 with a special focus on children and young adults. “I never had a problem giving advice to a player. I suppose you might say I am a bit of an interventionist.”

The 43-year-old, who has captained the Middlesex Amateurs and represented the England Amateurs, is a firm believer in incorporating life-experiences into coaching. Not that Wellings is unexposed to the conventional system; he completed his ECB level-3 certification in the company of Tom Moody, John Bracewell, and Douglas Brown.

“The ECB coaching manual is excellent but I use very little of it. There are lessons to learn from other sports and life. One thing Indians do very well is meditation and yoga. Most coaches spend 95 per cent of the time on imparting technique when they should be coaching the mind. Integrating technique with mental training is the main thing about my coaching.”

His stints as a player and as a coach in Australia and South Africa during his formative years have shaped the core of his philosophy. “When I went to Australia at the age of 21, I lived in the outback. I played for Pingrup, a club in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by kangaroos and sheep. It was very hot and a test of character.”

In 1993, Wellings played for a Cape-coloured side called Coronation near Stellenbosch in South Africa. “I was the first white person to stay in the Pniel village. Apartheid had been repealed, but the ANC hadn’t been elected yet. People of different races just didn’t mix.”

Despite his multi-dimensional experiences, a 28-year-old coach must have been a shock to the system. Luckily for Wellings, there weren’t many naysayers. “When I set up my academy, I was approached by a friend, the British Army side’s captain, to coach the team. I went down to Aldershot and did a session. We played a game and won, and for the next three years I was the British Army side’s coach.”

This provided Wellings with greater ammunition to broaden his knowledge-base. “The most highly trained people in the world are the military operatives. The army has been a big influence on me.”

His association with Cricket Drome materialised after former Tamil Nadu cricketer Sriram, the Director of Coaching at the facility, touched base with Saurashtra left-arm spinner Nayan Doshi.

“I was discussing with Nayan about taking the academy global. Nayan mentioned about Peter and I rang him up immediately. I thought we clicked well. We want to do a reciprocal tour of England with our boys in the summer of 2014.”

Inventive games

Wellings, who finds the children at Cricket Drome enthusiastic, loves to create off-the-cuff, inventive games. “Kids want to have fun. I made up this game called dunking where they need to stand up on a chair and lift one leg and balance for five seconds. The winners get a bucket of water poured on their heads. This little game is about balance which, to me, is second to watching the ball.”

Wellings has also been involved in coaching for charity at Delhi and Mumbai. He is also currently in talks with Delhi Daredevils for a coaching assignment with its junior side. “I have done assignments in San Francisco, Uganda, Rwanda, France, and Bermuda. But, India is like my second home. I am open to coaching State sides or junior BCCI sides here. However, I need to balance work and life,” concludes the father of three children.