A couple of days ago my old friend Vidyuth Jaisimha who is now the coach of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) Under 19 squad called me up to do a motivational chat with his wards. It was the first day of the camp before they went into a South Zone league format so he decided it was a good time.
We met at 930 a.m. at the Academy. It was a fine side led by Vaibhav and had some really good talent. Rayan, Rohith Rayudu, Abhishek Ashok, Arun Deva, Vamshi, Akash Bhandari, C.V.Milind, Zeeshan, Mallikarjun, Vinay Rao, Amit Veer. Ahmad Askari, Pattnaik and a couple that I don't recollect. I had seen almost all of them and we had done similar sessions last year when they gave a wonderful performance in the Under 16 last year. They are prolific scorers, high wicket takers and have attended some important camps. Akash Bhandari is one contract with the Deccan Chargers. Milind was in the India Under 16 camp, Rohith got plenty of runs as did Mallikarjun, Vinay Rao and the others. Compared to how we were when we were Under 19, they look mature, rounded and well prepared.
We ended up having a longer session than I planned for. After the initial clarity on why they were here (to win the cup of course, though most are not clear about it), how it benefits to play for the team (get to play more games), why they should win (to give each one a chance to play and achieve greater glory), why pride of being awarded the HCA colours was important (because it is the point of departure) and why they must all feel secure and play so the team wins (they get a bit of the glory). These issues may appear small and may also appear that they don't need to know of those - but it is amazing how few answers one can get for these questions in any team. People are just not oriented as to their duties, their roles, their jobs. There is too much assumption. It is best to clarify.
We spoke about how they can win (if they give their 100% each of them), how they should get into a state of mind where each of them supports one another to give their 100% (support, feedback), more team interaction to get the many veterans to express themselves. I asked them what their best performances to date were and they answered hesitantly. I told them that they could all better that performance - in this coming tournament itself - if they prepared for it. We made them state their targets, off the cuff, about wickets they would take in the five matches, runs scored, catches taken and run outs made. They all gave out their own targets, and the rest of us negotiated better for them if we felt they were being too conservative. It was good to see that almost everyone else felt that most estimates were conservative. Vidyuth wrote down what they promised themselves. A target - just to egg them on.
And then I asked them all to state one or two strengths of each player. All of them spelt out what they thought was the strength of each team mate and it was nice to see the concerned player listen carefully. Some were surprised when the others mentioned certain attributes but I told them to analyse that seriously because obviously someone had seen or felt that attribute. It was a fun exercise and everyone got involved a bit, and hopefully helped bond among each other a bit more. Certainly they would talk about it among themselves.
It was a fun and fruitful experience. The session went an hour longer than I thought and I felt I could have done much more but good enough for now. Now to see what the boys do when the tournament starts on the 20th.