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Monday, May 16, 2005

coach coach hota hai

Once a cricketer, always a cricketer goes a famous saying. After all, to enter the elite ‘Club of Eleven’ requires plenty of grit, determination and hard work. In days of yore there used to be only the aristocratic form of the game, with players in white flannels who loved to strike poses, after sending the ball to the ropes, for the benefit of the photographer. There used to be bonhomie all round and, tempers were never ruffled unless, of course, it was body line.

Old timers retired with dignity whenever they felt that the rigors of the game were taking their toll, un-noticed. In those days, a full day’s play seldom generated more than a hundred or so runs. The on-field umpires had to take decisions based on whatever they saw – the ultimate in the WYSIWYG philosophy. They did not have the advantage of replays from different angles to judge whether the bowler really over-stepped or whether the batsman was ‘plumb in front’ for the LBW decision or whether the bat was still a few centimeters in the air at the precise moment the bails fell off.

Obviously, with a few countries playing Test matches, the retirements of the players were gradual. Those who left the game took up interesting pastimes and could be seen watching their next generation take up the challenges. Old timers never considered returning to the 22 yards strip to become coaches for others.

Frankly speaking, coaches should be in a different league altogether. Coach coach hota hai, a coach is after all a coach. He acts as a friend, philosopher and guide to those whom he coaches. His knowledge must obviously be more; he must possess a larger vision. At times he has to rely on his sixth sense, his past experience and ‘gut’ feeling to discover solutions. In the extreme, he has to invent them!!

We have coaches in coaching classes who coach our children in their school subjects; a belief has crept into our lives that, in view of upward revision of the syllabus, parents of today find themselves severely handicapped while trying to explain to their wards how to tackle modern generation of questions.

In the same vein, we have cultivated the habit of handing over our team building exercises also to coaches. If they were from our own country, it would have been passé – after all we would then be helping out someone who is talented and, at the same time, needy. We do conduct benefit matches once in a while for ex-players and present a ‘purse’ to them as a token of remembrance.

Converting them into coaches is probably one more step towards making life that much easier for the selected few. In the final reckoning, we need to have scapegoats since it is convenient to dump the failures of the team squarely on their shoulders.

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