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‘Coach should adjust with the captain’

MASTER’S TOUCH Gurcharan Singh praises Chef Raymond Sim’s preparations at Rare Eastern Dining restaurant in Radisson Blu MBD Hotel, Noida

MASTER’S TOUCH Gurcharan Singh praises Chef Raymond Sim’s preparations at Rare Eastern Dining restaurant in Radisson Blu MBD Hotel, Noida   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Enjoying small portions of an oriental meal, Dronacharya Award winner Gurcharan Singh delineates the role of a coach in cricket

I have to persuade Gurcharan Singh to have lunch in a restaurant. “Where?,” he asks. “At the Rare Eastern Dining (RED) in Radisson Blu MBD Hotel, Noida.”

“Would they serve maa ki daal and roti?” he wants to know. The restaurant is known for serving oriental food in a pleasing and comfortable environment. I nod and the 83-old, a cricket Dronacharya, gives his reluctant approval.

His suspicions, however, come true a while later when Raymond Sim, the expat chef from Singapore, takes charge of our table. “I knew it,” Gurcharan has a hearty laugh and settles down for an oriental lunch even as he remembers the good old times when cricket was a “lovely” game without any “commercial strings” attached.

Gurcharan played 37 first-class matches for Maharaja of Patiala’s XI, Railways and Southern Punjab. When he landed a job in the National Institute of Sports, coaching became his way of life.

He takes a sip of watermelon juice and does not mind a basket of vegetarian dumplings. “Small portion please,” he insists. “There is a difference between playing and coaching. As a player, you can attempt what you want but as a coach you have to evaluate the strength and weakness of the trainee. You have to get into the mind of the player and think of what is best for him,” he says.

Sim, the friendly chef, suggests soup. “Tom yum soup. Very delicious,” he literally pleads with the Dronacharya, who has seen the game change over the years.

Change in game

“People are enjoying cricket. The life of cricketers has improved because they can make good money from the game. The game has changed we all know. I have always scolded if any of my trainee batsman hit the ball in the air. There was no applause for a lofted shot. It was said the batsman plays uppish shots. I have known batsmen being rejected because they played uppish shots. It is the other way around now. You can be rejected if you can’t hit the ball in the air.” It is time for Gurcharan to have a look at the main course. A bit of salad of glass noodles and egg fried rice with black pepper chicken. Gurcharan takes a small helping and shares his thoughts on the art of coaching.

“A coach is there in advisory capacity. It is the captain who should call the shots, way of handling the bowlers, setting the field. In cricket, no position is fixed. You have to be flexible and the captain is bound to change his tactics. It is captain’s game. I won’t take names but difference of opinion will be there. It is the coach who should adjust with the captain. I am a coach. I will have to adjust with the captain who needs a free hand on the field.”

What makes a good coach? “Visual observation is vital for a coach. You should be able to pick the talent amidst 1000 aspirants. Technique is paramount and a good youngster can’t escape your eye. But a coach has to pick if most youngsters are of the same calibre. That is there your skills of coaching are tested. I learnt a lot from Lala Amarnath.”

Kirti Azad, Maninder Singh, Gursharan Singh, Murali Kartik, Vivek Razdan, Ajay Jadeja, Rahul Sanghvi were some of the international cricketers who came from the National Stadium Coaching Centre. Who would he pick as the most outstanding? “Tough to pick one. Very tough. I have treated them equally. But if I had to pick someone on sheer talent and technique, I would pick Maninder and Jadeja. Both were immensely talented. The rest worked very hard to get where they have reached today.”

Spring roll ice-cream is a signature dish from the chef. Gurcharan obliges Sim and signs off with a warm hug.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 3:02:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/coach-should-adjust-with-the-captain/article19173698.ece

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