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Nuturing future champs

ASHWIN ACHAL
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CRICKET Former India cricketer Subroto Banerjee talks about the importance of university cricket

Teams of the futureBeing created at the camp
Teams of the futureBeing created at the camp

“We did not even have money to travel to the match venues,” says former Indian cricketer Subroto Banerjee, with a sheepish chuckle. The fast bowler was asked to recall his years as a university cricketer, and adds that “the scene now is so different”.

Thirty five young cricketers picked from the Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals in March this year are undergoing a week-long training camp at the National Cricket Academy (Alur), in an exercise which proves that university cricket has come a long way.

The wards, many of whom are knocking on the doors of first-class cricket, are under the guidance of an accomplished coaching staff— Vijay Bharadwaj (former Indian cricketer and reputed coach), Balachandra Akhil (former Royal Challengers Bangalore team member), R. Sridhar (Level 3 coach), V. Sudarshan (physio and trainer) and Banerjee.

“This camp acts as a bridge between junior and senior cricket. We are getting them prepared for the next level,” says Banerjee.

“In our day, nobody bothered about university cricket, even though it has produced some great players like Sanjay Manjrekar. I am thrilled that Red Bull has given our present college cricketers a chance to improve their skills.”

The 44-year-old explained that the coaches are working on the mental aspects of the game — how to handle big-match pressure, drills to improve focus etc. The camp also consists of 13 overseas players (from Sri Lanka, England and Bangladesh), and Banerjee states that the foreign wards reaped the maximum rewards.

“I would say the camp was most beneficial for the boys from other countries. The English cricketers really struggled against our spinners here. They have a tendency to play through the line, because they are not used to our conditions. We helped them correct their technique against spin,” he said.

For Bharadwaj, it was all about helping the cricketers come of age. “I would not term these guys as ‘boys’, as many of them have crossed the under-19 level. But, they are not completely mature yet either. We are looking to help them along in this transition,” he says.

ASHWIN ACHAL

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