The usefulness of the specialist coach
Along with Ravi Shastri, who was appointed as the head coach, India have named Zaheer Khan as bowling consultant and Rahul Dravid as batting consultant for overseas Test series. The appointments came as additions to the existing duo of Sanjay Bangar and R Sridhar, who will continue in their roles as batting and fielding coach respectively. As the beefed up backroom staff takes charge for its first assignment, we look at five instances when international cricketers benefitted from specialist coaches.
Sridharan Sriram's role in Steven O'Keefe's match-winning spell, 2017
A month before their tour of India, Australia appointed former India allrounder Sridharan Sriram as their spin bowling consultant for the Test series. Sriram had been with Australia's A teams before, during which time he had worked with Steven O'Keefe. After bowling a few overs before lunch on day two of the first Test in Pune, O'Keefe told Sriram that he needed to have a bowl with him in the centre. What happened next is history, as O'Keefe ended with match figures of 12 for 70, bundling India out on home turf in three days. As expected, he singled out Sriram for praise, calling him "a big influence, who knows how to bowl in these conditions".
Sanjay Bangar's influence on the Indian cricket team, 2017
Bangar has been credited by India's batsmen and bowlers alike during his stint with the team. First, Umesh Yadav thanked him for assistance with his run-up, saying, "Sanjay bhai told me that you were running faster to get that extra pace, affecting my line and length. He told me to enjoy your running so you would have better control". More recently, Virat Kohli spoke about specialised throwdowns from Bangar and Raghu, the team's throwdown specialist, at speeds of 145-150 kph. Ahead of the Champions Trophy final against Pakistan, Kohli said, "the preparations we have got are exactly like a match scenario, and a lot of credit goes to them. On a personal level, I can say that it's because of these two that the last two years I have had whatever improvements in my batting"
Moeen Ali dedicates his Lord's ten-for to Saqlain Mushtaq, 2017
After picking up his first ten-for in Test cricket, Moeen dedicated it to Saqlain, who was part of England's coaching set-up in 2016. "I learnt a lot [in the winter] speaking to Saqi. It made things a lot clearer for myself and I'd like to dedicate this to him", he said after doing the 2000 runs - 100 wickets double in the same match.
Mark Ramprakash gets a thumbs-up from Joe Root, 2016
Root came out of a rare lean patch by smashing a career-best 254 against Pakistan last year. After the game, he admitted to being "really wound up", frustrated by a series of single-digit scores, and thanked Ramprakash, England's batting coach. Ramprakash had asked him if he was "mentally in the right place to play Test cricket at the minute", after coming to a conclusion that Root's game looked in "good order". Root said that the comment first hurt him, then made him think about it, and ended up boosting his confidence.
Michael di Venuto's advice draws Steven Smith's praise
Di Venuto's fabled line - "Smudge, you're not out of form, you're just out of runs" - was cited by Smith as among the biggest reasons for his extended purple patch between 2014 and 2015. Smith went on to hammer nearly 1500 runs in the next 12 Tests at a remarkable average of 77.84. Speaking to cricket.com.au later, di Venuto admitted that it was a "bluff from my playing days when I wasn't scoring anything but feeling alright in the nets". With Smith's preparations on point, di Venuto elaborated that "part of the thing with that comment is to stop the player from worrying about my hands, my head, my feet, other things about my batting, other than just going out there, backing your skills, watching the balls and making good decisions."