Ian Chappell
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Former Australia captain, now a cricket commentator and columnist

Coaching kills the batting star

Young batsmen seem to be developing more slowly these days than in the past

Ian Chappell

April 7, 2013

Comments: 75 | Text size: A | A

Javed Miandad drives, Surrey v Pakistanis, 1st day, The Oval, August 7, 1982
Javed Miandad: largely self-taught © Getty Images
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Recently I stated that the Australian production line has slowed to a crawl, which begs the question: are there alternatives to developing young batsmen for an international career?

I was surprised last August when I attended the Under-19 World Cup to find that among the major nations, in all bar one case, the fast bowlers were way ahead of the batsmen in development. The exception was India. They had batsmen with uncomplicated footwork who also possessed the shots to take charge of an attack, with Unmukt Chand being the standout.

My mind went back to when I first saw Ricky Ponting as a 17-year-old at the cricket academy. After five minutes it was obvious that here was a young batsman who looked every inch an international player. Apart from Chand, I didn't see one batsman at the U-19 World Cup who displayed similar traits.

Ponting recently questioned the amount of short-form cricket now played by batsmen in their development stages. In an interesting observation about his junior days, he indicated he had to be removed by the bowler, not by a set of rules. "I was batting until someone got me out, and if that took them a week then that's how long it took them," he said.

In trying to devise a better method to produce batsmen for the modern game, is it worth delving into the past to improve the future? Along with the example of Ponting's upbringing, there's further compelling evidence from the background of both Garry Sobers and Javed Miandad - two champion batsmen with totally different styles, who played a lot of their youth cricket on the street.

When asked why he batted without a thigh pad, Sobers said he grew up using a picket off a fence, facing bowlers delivering a rock that was rounded into shape with tape, while playing on a rutted road. He explained it was in his best interests to hit the unpredictably deviating "ball", because if he missed, it was going to hurt.

Then there's the development of Sachin Tendulkar. He played in hundreds of matches on the Mumbai maidans, often moving from one game to another on the same day. Contrast this with the structured net sessions or long stints facing a bowling machine that a youth cricketer currently endures.

Having benefitted as a youngster from good coaching, I was appalled when I read former Australia legspinner Bill O'Reilly's sentiments on the breed. "If you see a coach coming," O'Reilly wrote, "run and hide behind a tree." However, I eventually came to the conclusion that if you don't receive good coaching when you're young then you're better off with none at all. Like O'Reilly, many of Australia's champions came from the bush and learned by practising their art in unusual ways for hours on end. Don Bradman, Stan McCabe and Doug Walters were three batsmen in this category. The conclusion to be drawn? They worked things out for themselves and eventually knew their own game inside out.

This accords with the 2013 TED talk on child learning delivered by Sugata Mitra. The eminent professor suggested it's best to pose a question to kids and let them unearth the solution for themselves. This is what Bradman, Sobers, Tendulkar and Miandad were doing in different ways. They also benefited from playing against men at a young age, which is one sure way to hasten the development process.

There are now more coaches in the game but there's less batting artistry. The modern methods are often devised to produce more power and better hitters, with a leaning to the agricultural rather than any pretence of artistry. Often, this is a case of mistaking change for improvement.

In his coaching book Sobers laments: "One of the tragedies of cricket coaching is that the greatness of the game's best players has been revered but never followed, praised but never preached." He has a point. The players with the best records succeed more often under all conditions than those with inferior statistics.

Tendulkar and Michael Hussey are good modern examples. They both developed a solid batting foundation complemented by a wide range of strokes and then adapted their game to the different forms. This is a better proposition than taking a hitter's approach to batting and then hoping it translates into success in the long form of the game.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist

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Posted by Amith_S on (April 10, 2013, 7:50 GMT)

@FlemingMitch nice one mate, his commentory was very biased, everytime Brayshaw came he literally fell off his seat, you would think they were related. @Hyclass fair points but in saying this selection 'system' needs and overhall. The Australian batsman can only be better for the experience in India, so not much needs to change aside from perhaps Khawaja coming in which as been long overdue. And Watson needs to bowl as well. And i am hopeful we use one of our shield spinners as the second spinner rather then someone from outside. Given that Australia and the UK both attract high levels of immigration there are bound to be examples of foreign born players in both teams. What surprises me is that Ahmed Fawad can just walk-in to the Aussie team once he gains citizenship, while in England he would first have to serve a seven year qualification period before being selected.

Posted by KhanMitch on (April 10, 2013, 7:00 GMT)

I said it before that certain players in the India series were picked on reputations they might earn in the future rather then batting. To hear the likes of James Brayshaw verbally fall off his chair on air as Maxwell thrashed around like a branded stallion was not good. Lo and behold, thanks to the heavy breathing of Brayshaw et al every time the camera zoomed in on Maxwell's face, suddenly he's worth a mill and a baggy green to boot.Watson's non-bowling highlighted that unless he bowls he can't hold a spot in the team as a batsman at Test level. As much as i repsect him we either get him bowling, or forget him forever in the creams.Khawaja's non selection over the last 3 months has not been acceptable and the kid is made for test cricket and one of the few whose technique hasn't been affected by T20 cricket so he is a must for the ashes. Sunil great list of young players there mate, shows that we do have the batsman coming through.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (April 9, 2013, 11:11 GMT)

Sunil you are obviously very knowledgeable on the young batsman around the country. Exciting to see Maddinson, Harris, Head, Patterson come through. Also agree that Khawaja is our next best batsman and can't wait to see him fire in the ashes. @AidanFX i think Hughes is returning to his old technique and that's fantastic to see, hopefully a big ashes for him as well coming up.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (April 9, 2013, 11:03 GMT)

@Mary its hard not to talk about the ashes, its just too exciting and only 3 months away. I think that the starting xi should be Warner Cowan,Hughes Clarke,Khawaja, Watson, Wade, Starc, ,Sidle, , Bird, Lyon. Watson must bowl and we must have 6 batsman. As you mentioned Khawaja must get his chance and is a key batsman for the English conditions. I'm also encouraged by the young batsmen; Nic Maddinson, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Kurtis Patterson, Cam Bancroft, Will Bosisto and Sam Hain (in the unlikely even that Hain chooses to play for Australia instead of England). I've added a few names to those you put there. But Ian Chappell, whose talent spotting of technically strong young batsmen I admire immensely, thinks Australia still has massive problems with the technique of young batsmen and he wasn't at all encouraged by the U19 World Cup in 2012. So I'm still rather concerned about all this.

Posted by Clyde on (April 9, 2013, 8:37 GMT)

I think a lot would be discovered through a table showing which putative Test batsmen had stayed at the wicket for how long, in their average innings. I would suggest that Cowan is selected because it is thought he is attempting to become a batsman of temperament, like Bob Simpson, rather than a roll of the dice, like a number of others we have been embarrassed by in recent months. I know a lot of spectators, especially in recent years, round the world, like the gambling feel that has come up with the shorter forms. I wonder who it is who is telling our tyro batsmen that this superficiality is OK, that we don't admire character and substance.

Posted by AidanFX on (April 9, 2013, 6:36 GMT)

Hhhm can we put Hughes into that category - prematurely dumped in the tour in Eng rather than let the kid work out how to deal with a barrage of fast bowling - he was sent to exile and forced to change his game (over coaching) - which initially had devastating results. To his credit, he developed the ability to once again make runs at first class level; but the guy could have been anything.

Posted by Mark63 on (April 9, 2013, 5:51 GMT)

Ian, I agree with your opinion and believe that we live in a society where nanny state do-gooders have too much in influence in learning. I also believe that contemporary Australian batsmen have developed a technique where they play from the crease and their only movement is one step forward to the pitch of the ball and to hit through the line of the ball. Very few Australian batsmen have good footwork either forward or back. In recent times, blokes such as Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Mark Waugh, Mark Taylor, Allan Border and David Boon have/had reasonably good footwork, but none of these blokes had as good footwork as blokes such as yourself, Doug Walters, Ian Redpath and Greg Chappell.

Posted by Mary_786 on (April 9, 2013, 0:47 GMT)

With all this discussion on batting talk will turn to the ashes son enough. I would love to see Inevarity announce the folloiwng for the ashes. "We have taken the decision to take seven batsmen and eight bowlers (six pacemen and two spinners). Watson to be inlcuded if he is bowling. Indian tourists Glenn Maxwell and Xavier Doherty remain an important part of the national limited overs sides and their form in future first-class seasons will determine whether or not they earn a recall to the test side.". The pace attack of Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird and Mitchell Starc, who has recovered well from surgery to remove bone spurs on his ankle. Nathan Lyon remais our premier spinner and Ashton Agar joins the tour for development as his backup.The test team will revert to the traditional batting lineup of 6 batsmen being Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Michael Clarke, Usman Khawaja and Stephen Smith with D Huss joining the squad as the backup batsman.

Posted by   on (April 8, 2013, 18:43 GMT)

I would like to take divergent point here. More than the coaches, its the fear of a particular skill that has the young bunch in trouble. I will site two examples here. India has been consistently producing champion batsmen, and yet there are no quality fast bowlers. Hence a batsman always gets away without due coaching and is let off to develop on his own most of the times. But in case of fast bowler, his action is twisted and turned over and over again before he plays his first ranji match. Hence he remains ineffective, much like what Mr. Chappell is stressing here. On the other hand Australians have had a nice record of having developed champion fast bowlers time and again, but when it comes to batting there are too many coaches who are experts in instilling the fear of the bouncer or the swinging ball. Hence the young ones instantly run to any coach who is available. Faulty techniques always lead to faulty players be it a batsman or a bowler. Thus hence the problem.

Posted by   on (April 8, 2013, 16:09 GMT)

Just to add that there is no scarcity of ´home grown´batting methods out there, both recent and current. I don´t think anyone could seriously argue that the approach and methods of Graeme Smith, Katich, Chanderpaul, Sehwag or even Trott are anything like text book, which in part, I suppose, is what makes them so difficult to bowl at. All of these guys have very good career records. Chappelli may just be on to something!

Posted by ramli on (April 8, 2013, 13:06 GMT)

Well ... any batsman tries his best not to get out ... in return, any bowler tries his best to take wickets ... even a moderate success would mean that technique is good ... it is just usually that techniques in copy-book or coaching manual result in average success all the time than self-made ones which are so hard to come by ...

Posted by   on (April 8, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

@Adam Griffin, great point! I think its pretty evident with some bowlers for example that they just cannot think for themselves. Guys like Starc and Johnson don´t seem able to adjust at all whereas guys like Patto and Siddle are far more able to change up their lines and lengths. Starc is the prime example, you can see that he started out as a batsman and was turned into a bowler because of his height and athleticism. He was able to adapt to batting quite quickly in India whereas he could'nt find his way with the ball at all. I´m hoping with experience he´ll overcome this but he´s struggling for the moment.

Posted by Thandiwe on (April 8, 2013, 12:16 GMT)

Ian has picked up the line very early in this article but I am not sure that he executed the right shot. There is a need to review our coaching methods and not to abandon coaching. As Sutra points out clearly, allow people to discover their way of learning with some pointing. Be patient. Its not the coaching it the "micro-managing" "one-size-fits-all" method. What we have done in cricket is to create the "basics" and drilled them into everybody and they also become an answer for all evil. So every inability to perform is related back to grip and stance.

Maybe, just maybe our definition of "basis", faults, causes and corrections are wrong. Time to rethink and re-tool.

Great article Ian - one of your best.

Posted by   on (April 8, 2013, 11:53 GMT)

I wonder if this is Chappelli having a dig about Hughes´treatment? Who can really tell? Steve Smith and Dave Warner have very much their own methods too but don´t seem to have been tampered with to the same extent, if at all, maybe that´s a good thing for them, maybe not?

@Edwards_Anderson, I think Warner, Wade, Starc, Cowan, Lyon and Harris are all probably walk up starts too. Whether or not that is a good thing is a different matter, but right now no-one is challenging them for a place in the team!

@HycIass, I think Burns and Khawaja both need to do more to prove they are anymore than solid FC cricketers. Right now they are no better than the likes of a Cowan, Bailey, Voges, Marsh or Ferguson, just younger. By the end of next season we may even be thinking of them in the same light as a Chris Lynn or Nic Maddinson, that is to say, they had one great season, but offer no more. Same goes for the likes of Doolan, Silk and co.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (April 8, 2013, 11:18 GMT)

Great artile by Chappell. I have always wondered whether its better to leave natural talent alone as has been the case for some of the past greats who were not heavily coached or whether its better to tweak talent as required. I am probably off the view that its best to slighly tweak naturally talented batsman as required but not to make major modifications to their game. For our batting stocks some of the more naturally talented batsman include Khawaja, Marsh and Sik. Khawaja has the best temparement out of these guys and is the guy i see as our best young batsman coming in and hopefully he is a 10 year proposition. Marsh is injured at the moment and hopefully can have a good shield season next year to push for higher honours.

Posted by Amith_S on (April 8, 2013, 10:13 GMT)

Mitty2 I echo your words mate, Khawaja will be a vital pawn for us in the ashes and same with Bird, which other batsman aside from Khawaja and Clarke do ou see doing well for us. Also your example of Hughes is a good one, his technique was tampered with too much, should have left it how it was

Posted by Mitty2 on (April 8, 2013, 7:43 GMT)

@edwards_anderson: khawaja will most definitely play the first test, and bird should, if he's back fully recovered, play at trent bridge as well. But yes the contract decision was terrible.

Despite what chappell says in another of his ordinary and irrelevant rants, the batsman he's talking of are of an incredibly small minority in past and present cricket. More of them will obviously come in the latter years, and surely, good coaching will only make them better? These players are in such a small portion over history, and currently, NOT JUST IN AUSTRALIA IAN, there is no one of that standard. The only player of present who could prove a good example of what you're saying is hughes. He first came into the scene with a blistering debut of two centuries with his own technique, not altered or affected by coaching, but before the '09 ashes,the coaches tried to change his technique, change what is effective for him, and this led to uncertainty from an obvious talent, and led to his downfall

Posted by hycIass on (April 8, 2013, 6:49 GMT)

@JohnVerdal like you i also see Khawaja and Burns as 2 of our future stars, Khawaja is ready now and I think Burns will come through by next season. A point I would add is that our pitches are being designed to a likeness and are not encouraging spin on these wickets. Its not just a dearth of coaching, its also wickets that arent allowing spin bowlers to develop their skills and wickets not designed to make batsmen work hard against spin for their wickets thereby improving both. It seems obvious that Watson, Cowan and Hughes have serious problems against good spin. Cowan being more careful in his approach probably handles spin better, but lacks the range of batting skills to take advantage of it.

Posted by BellCurve on (April 8, 2013, 6:42 GMT)

Unmukt Chand deserves to be mentioned. But Quinton De Kock is exactly the same age and has achieved a lot more so far in his career. He was also at the U-19 World Cup. Maybe Chappell didn't see him in action?

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (April 8, 2013, 6:31 GMT)

Good article. The stark reality is that our Test team has been mismanaged by incompetent selection, poor player motivation and performance seemingly without consequences, Typically, our national teams' results always head in a downwards spiral once the the coach was made selector. Border should be added to the selection panel and also Waugh and Lehman should be our next coach. As for the current crop Khawaja deserves a real crack and should be given the same amount of games as Hughes has had and even half of what Cowan has had. He can be our long term test batsman. Also how about giving Bird a contract, surely he has earned it. How many players are walk up starts? Clarke, Pattinson, Siddle….I'm struggling after that. Even Watson is not the guarantee he once was and he must bowl as we need a good allrounder otherwise he can' be selected on batting alone. This ashes tour will make and break a few careers so alot to look forward to in the coming ashes.

Posted by ygkd on (April 8, 2013, 6:16 GMT)

The best suggestion I could make as an Australian is to go and have a look at what the AFL is doing with regional youth football. The AFL have the money and the facilities and the system in place. Sure, they need more young players than cricket currently has room for, but standing on the other side of the fence one can see regional youth cricket, especially in the bush, is the poor relation no-one wants to bother helping. Cricket is getting a hiding from footy (in the southern states) and it is not fighting back. It laments the loss of talent to the so-called "winter" game, but that won't get it anywhere. Grade cricket is in decline and the ladder from local to First Class player should be declared unusable and scrapped since adding the branch-line, now the main-line, to T20. So, though there's much to what Chappell says, there's also a lot that must happen before his ideas will make the sense they should, and happen sooner rather than later or time will run out. Footy will have won.

Posted by ygkd on (April 8, 2013, 6:01 GMT)

I tend to agree with the recent comment that CA doesn't necessarily want independent-type players, but it's also the case that country zones don't much need specialists. A wickie who's just a batsman with extra gloves? Fine. An opener who bats there because he can't face spin, not because he can really play pace. No problems. Middle-order wannabes who can hit but can't last. Yep. A spinner who's a batsman who can bowl slow. That'll do. That is not to criticise the zone staff out there at all. They must work in the environment they're given and that is almost exclusively short-form. It's not their fault that the specialist is often struggling for space. They're being tugged in the all-round T20 direction and too much is expected of them. The call must come from Board levels, that specialist skills matter, that long-form games are a must and that more time is given to allowing young players the room to develop and fairly demonstrate their uniqueness.

Posted by SunAndSea on (April 8, 2013, 5:23 GMT)

Cricket is big business; consequently corporate thinking has taken hold over the last 30 years or so. Corporates value effectiveness over artistry - this could explain the dearth of batting artistry (which is not to say that artists are necessarily ineffective). They also seek to replicate success by reducing it to a formula. This might explain why some coaches are harmful. They are too quick to give a batsman formulas or clichés ("positive intent", anybody?) for success instead of giving that batsman a chance to understand his own game.

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (April 8, 2013, 5:19 GMT)

What is this bloke on about? He knows as well as anyone that in this over structured era that if a kid doesn't change to the way the 'accredited' coach tells him in his country zone game, then he will never have a chance of progression through the crowded ranks. CA doesn't want free thinkers with unique techniques, they want adequate players that will tow the line at press conferences. Phil Hughes (not a Test player by anyones measure) got a game because he was making runs, had early success because of surprise, naturally failed and then changed technique dramatically because it was his only way of coming back into consideration. The institution doesn't want self taught, unique mavericks; it doesn't fit with building bureaucratic empires that is rife in all sporting organisations now.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (April 8, 2013, 4:43 GMT)

My issue with our current selection policy has been with picking allrounders who are not ready for test cricket. There are two who are not in the squad but who are better then Maxwell . The best option is Andrew McDonald when fit. Genuine 5 or 6 bat and handy bowler, suited to English conditions. The other lesser option is James Hopes. Gutsy aggressive batsman definitely a 7 but 6 may be stretching it (but averaging nearly 40 this year in the Shield) and a very handy third or 4th seamer.Both are very very economical. Both are smart and experienced. But have shown guts and character. Among the younger batsman Khawaja is the best we have and i think will star for us in the ashes. His runs in shield have all come in tough conditions.Quiney is another one who can get back in if he gets runs in shield next season. Lets get 6 batsman, a keeper and 4 bowlers in and we will play better.

Posted by   on (April 8, 2013, 1:48 GMT)

It's naturally tempting to think that a well controlled and structured coaching method is what young players need to develop. As human beings we seem obsessed with control, as if we can literally squeeze talent out of someone by forcing them through a mould. In truth it's far more fluid and at times quite random how a player develops. I think the most important point here is the idea that you simply have to work things out for yourself. Until you get it in your own head how you're going to manage all the variables on a cricket pitch, no amount of coached technique will help you. You have to internalise the teachings, make them your own. A good teacher is not the one with all the knowledge and the latest tools, they are the one who gets the student to see things for themselves. Either we've lost patience or the coaching mentality has gotten too big for it's boots. We don't need to control these young players, we simply need to give them the best opportunity to learn for themselves.

Posted by Mary_786 on (April 8, 2013, 0:14 GMT)

We has two significant problems right now… 1. Getting the right players in the team for the Ashes.While just about every batsman looked utterly confused by the Indian bowling, it was interesting that there were several decent batting performances by the bowlers. Is anyone asking why Mitchell Starc was able to almost score a century while none of the top four looked remotely capable? Why was Siddle able to score a half-century in both innings in the last Test, and again, no similar level of performance by the top four? Here's one suggestion - the bowlers don't over-think their technique. There is much to be said for keeping things simple. Do the basics right and the rest will follow. For the batsman Khawaja is a must, he has been the reserve batsman for 3 months now and Hussey endorsed him as his successor so lets get the kid in. 2. Getting the leadership/administration right.Homework-gate summed up the appalling state of the Australian leadership in a nutshell.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2013, 23:34 GMT)

The late great Sir Don Bradman once said that the key to batting is all about concentration and the ability of knowing what stroke selection to play at what time and not so much about technique. Concentration he believed would get you out of difficult patches. However he believed concentration is something you are born with and cannot be coached.

Posted by V-Man_ on (April 7, 2013, 23:20 GMT)

One of the major problem for the junior cricketers in Australia is too many rules. If you are U19, those rules dictate how much cricket you can play. Any one can look good in the nets but in the middle it is completely different. another problem is over coaching.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2013, 23:13 GMT)

Why no Dravid in modern day developments of cricket.

Posted by duralsumo on (April 7, 2013, 22:58 GMT)

I am often treated like a pariah when I bring up the point of going back to old school techniques for junior players (players under 17). Being from bowling restrictions and batting scores. However over zeolous parents indicate that their little Johnny or Joan are not getting a fair go and they pay their money as well. So it is a fine line between old way and developing good cricketers and the new age of nurturing children who may not stay in the game to keep the parents happy.

Posted by ygkd on (April 7, 2013, 22:00 GMT)

Is it any wonder then, that so many don't appear to be able to think for themselves? There's always an opinion to listen to. Young Australian bats don't have to think for themselves to be highly regarded. This is perhaps the biggest sticking point of all. Some of course will never quite think for themselves, because they have either gotten too used to not doing so or because their ability to hit a ball is not matched with their ability to understand bowling, field placements and the art of building an innings. Or perhaps it is because they cannot quite get to grips with the limits of their abilities. If one has heard a stream of sentiment on how absolutely wonderful one's batting ability is, it is not unlikely that there'll be a tendency to believe such things rather too much. Now, it would be easy to say that its just the modern cricketing world and teenagers today, but this what my generation in Australia has helped fashion for them in the mistaken belief it is what they need.

Posted by ygkd on (April 7, 2013, 21:47 GMT)

Ultimately, it's always about getting the right coaching at the right time. There is no problem with early coaching, whereby a platform is laid and then the player is left largely to his own devices. There is also no problem with coming in later with minor adjustments and working on the psychological side of things. However, there is a problem with the coach as demi-god who knows all cures to all ailments at all times. There is also a problem with too many coaches and this is, I think, partly what the article is about. Take a talented youngster in Australia. He may have a club coach who wants this or that, a district/league rep coach who wants this or that, a regional coach, state squad coaches, plus maybe a school coach and a father or uncle & maybe even a private coach in a commercial academy.... The list goes on. One coach, I think, who understands the player is better than a myriad of differing opinions. However, one coach is the last thing a young Australian bat is likely to get.

Posted by aarifboy on (April 7, 2013, 17:26 GMT)

It seems coaching is necessary for fast bowlers and fielders,not for batsmen or spinners.

Posted by Desihungama on (April 7, 2013, 17:07 GMT)

Javed Miandad is one of those polarized player who you either hated or loved. Nevertheless he was the most fun player to watch on the field.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2013, 17:05 GMT)

The great stats of batting stuper stars is evidence that their technique is superior to coached technique......................Then why not update the obsolete book of cricket & teach youngsters the technique of superstars..............Straight drive & leg glance & back foot punch cover drive of Tendulkar, Pull of Ponting, cover drive of Gangully, cut of Sehwag, Slog sweep of Hayden, straight hit of spinners of Lara

Posted by   on (April 7, 2013, 16:03 GMT)

Look at shiv chanderpaul , technique he develop his own style and he is one of the best out there , coaching Otis wants to tell chander how to bat look at the results not even in the 50 overs team because Otis tell him he had to shoulder the batting responsibilities and he can't free his arms cause he has to look over his shoulder whilst other get to come and play freely st will bravo Samuels Sammy but he has to bear the burden and his wicket in tack hence he can't attack at free will and so he scores slowly , lets not forget tough his 3 rd fastest test century

Posted by gdavis on (April 7, 2013, 13:19 GMT)

BAD coaching and or coaches should be the focus, not coaching or coaches in general. The t20 game is making it harder for coaches to teach the younger generation the right way to approach the game, and this is the most difficult aspect of coaching now. The stars mentioned did not grow up with the temptation of the scoop etc.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2013, 12:49 GMT)

I agree with many things Chappell says. I never aspired to be an India batsman, nor even a state level player. The pinnacle of achievement for me was to open for my high school team. But for several months prior to selection into the school team, I played this kind of street cricket against grown men. Granted this was on a grassy lawn rather than the more humble (and much more challenging!) "street cricket" versions of Sobers and Miandad. But playing against men while I was 15 or 16 and without any pads or gloves taught me to be protect myself and also be effective as a batsman. There were 3 guys who all wanted to knock my head off for being the "brown sahib's" son who had all the privileges. But I survived and made it to the school team. My technique was all wrong, footwork was something out of this world, but I learnt to survive in all those "matches" and make runs. The only problem was getting used to pads and batting gloves! That was quite tough.

Posted by Mr.PotatoesTomatoes on (April 7, 2013, 12:47 GMT)

@CoverDrive888- It's a good question.IPL has been demonized and roundly accused and blamed for destroying batters',technique and temperament alike.However in the just concluded test series at least threeIndian players who play important roles for their respective franchises(Vijay,Kohli and Dhoni), batted authoritatively and assuredly while the Aussie batsmen faltered, and not just against spin(Bhuvaneshwar had two important spells of swing bowling that pushed the Aussies back on both the occasions.)I don't think it's beyond talented and skilled batsmen to metamorphose and adapt their game.It might be difficult but with focus and application should be within reach.This is to say I don't really buy the argument that T20 cricket is destroying the purity of test cricket, and is definitely not the enemy as far as Australian batting woes go. Now why aren't the Aussie batsmen doing this,could be just about less skills,or lack of application.Warner+Hughes in top 3 does not look solid at all.

Posted by landl47 on (April 7, 2013, 12:34 GMT)

There are two different issues here. One is whether batsmen are developing more slowly these days. I see no evidence for that. Australia is having a hard time finding young batsmen at the moment, but that's not the same thing. Taking half a dozen great players, all of whom developed at very different rates (Tendulkar was an international at 16, Hussey didn't play a test till he was 30) and saying why aren't there lots of players like this is just silly- there never were lots of players like Sobers, Bradman, Miandad, etc.

The other question is whether the batsmen are over-coached. Chappell then goes on to talk about batsmen being coached to play aggressively. In fact, that's the opposite of over-coaching; young players naturally play aggressively. It's defensive technique that they have to be taught. If anything, today's batsmen are under-coached, so they don't learn how to keep the ball out and the virtues of defence.

Two issues- and Chappell has both of them wrong.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2013, 12:23 GMT)

Nothing is different, no old no new, talent is talent. Its all a psychological. So many things are influencing a player's mind now a days. leagues, media, money involved, insecurity all effecting a player's mind and as a result effecting their approach and Technic.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (April 7, 2013, 12:17 GMT)

The most recent example of over coaching a young batsman is Phil Hughes.

He developed his technique playing bush cricket in country NSW. The fantasically gifted 20 year old was smashing century after century against the world's best bowlers. But 1 minor flaw in his technique was enought to get him dropped and told to change that very same technique!

What a load of rubbish.

Posted by CoverDrive888 on (April 7, 2013, 11:06 GMT)

What I would like to know is why are there so many young-ish Indian batsmen with good to excellent techniques. Comparing them with the current Australian batting line-up is like comparing chalk and cheese. It appears to me that despite the IPL and the high profile of T20 there, India is doing something right while Australia has regressed very badly.

Posted by 07sanjeewakaru on (April 7, 2013, 10:23 GMT)

Thanks chappelli for this marvelous writing and that wonderful TED talk link.

Posted by vik56in on (April 7, 2013, 10:22 GMT)

The solution is simple.Keep the minimum age for playing in IPL as 24 yrs.

Posted by Puffin on (April 7, 2013, 9:05 GMT)

I think the best teaching method is to let them play real cricket, as much as possible. They will be facing bowlers who actively want to and are trying to get them out, not a machine not really "trying" to do anything. By all means have them available to practise when there is no real cricket to play, but not as a substitute.

This is why the bowlers are doing better. There's no such thing as a batting machine to bowl against, so they have to have a real batsman.

Posted by Sandeepktrwl on (April 7, 2013, 8:56 GMT)

Its all about talent and how to convert the talent into hunger and hunger into success and success into legends..

Rohit Sharma is talented but his talent is without hunger..

Akmal brothers have both talent and hunger but the capability to be successful is lacking..

Younis Khan is successful but not a legend

Posted by KarachiKid on (April 7, 2013, 8:44 GMT)

I think the key is to bring in young batsmen, the same way young fast bowlers are brought to prove their worth.

Posted by LourensGrobbelaar on (April 7, 2013, 8:13 GMT)

Ian Chappell's reference to what Ponting said must also be understood in context. Ponting was referring to batsmen at junior levels who only have a few overs to bat before they have to retire so the next player can bat. This does not cultivate players who value their wickets and therefore adapt their technique to both making runs, but also not being dismissed. It rather cultivates players who know they have to get as many runs as possible any way possible, and thus play more agricultural shots in the process.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2013, 7:59 GMT)

This is not just happening in cricket. The English education system, driven by comparing schools on mediocre exam results: 'never mind the quality, feel the width' seems to be the mantra, is producing dependent kids who can't learn anything by themselves. The problem is that coaches and teachers seem to have to justify their existance by constant interference: if they're not doing something, why have them? Pink Floyd had it right - Hey teacher, leave those kids alone.

Posted by ygkd on (April 7, 2013, 7:21 GMT)

Bad words for bowling machines are understandable. Yet, not necessarily correct. They are a tool and like any tool, they are as good as the way they are used. If that use is merely in a mechanical sort of way to teach a youngster to hit balls of even length, line and bounce by the thousand-fold, they will end up looking rather mechanical too. However, if bowling machines are used with thought, by swinging full-pitched tennis balls both ways at very high pace during winter for example, they can be very useful in providing very challenging conditions for teens to work things out for themselves. Experimentation is the key. The instruction manual won't tell you how to do it. And the club or indoor nets may not be the place to do it. You need to work out how, when, where and why to use the machine yourself if it's to help a youngster work out how to bat for himself. If someone esle has showed you, you'll just do it that way.

Posted by LourensGrobbelaar on (April 7, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

Personally I don't think it is that coaching is bad, but maybe it should be more creative rather than textbook. Also people playing backyard and streetcricket play so much more cricket than someone that only plays in the nets and official games. It helps develop flair and individuality and shot selection. All of it together gives one experience at a younger age. Here is an example of some great backyard cricket. As children Hansie Cronje's backyard team consisted of Hansie Cronje, Alan Donald, Nicky Boje and Hansie's brother Frans (Provincial cricketer). Combine that with some intuitive and creative coaching and it is a great field for developing. Similarly Hashim Amla's wristy play developed in the backyard playing against his brother Ahmed Amla(Provincial cricketer). Graeme Pollock debuted at the age of 19 after years of backyard cricket against brother Peter Pollock.

Posted by sifter132 on (April 7, 2013, 7:16 GMT)

Are batsmen truly worse these days? Or are we just basing this on Chappell's opinion of the field at the U-19 World Cup? I guess we won't know until 5-10 years time how many of them are proven to be good players. If modern coaching is to blame, then how does one equate the improving batting averages, and worsening bowling averages in recent years? Surely pitches have not changed THAT much in recent times to make them roads as compared to 10-20 years ago. I personally feel it's just the swings and roundabouts of the game. In the 90s we had quite a few great bowlers, in the 00s there were very few, particularly after the prolific spin trio of Warne, Murali and Kumble retired.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (April 7, 2013, 7:02 GMT)

And why is it that the women's game has Test ready players at a younger age than the men's? And they're not breaking down?

Posted by ygkd on (April 7, 2013, 6:44 GMT)

There is still a role for the coach, however, as long as that role is not about instilling fashion. There is no point in telling a 14 year old who can get behind and over a bouncer and hook with his wrists rolled in the old style to lift his bat higher and come down harder with stiffer arms in the modern way. There is no point in telling a young player to stop playing a shot against adults which is getting him runs, but also getting him out now and again. Modify when or even how he plays it a bit (just a bit), with his full input, yes. But never go crook at him for playing a productive cricket-like shot if he keeps it down. He may take that shot to the next level and score much more effectively on well-mown grounds with decent batting surfaces, but if you take it away from him, he never will have that opportunity.

Posted by ygkd on (April 7, 2013, 6:23 GMT)

Let me give an example of the do-it-yourself-to-some-extent bush batsman type of today. Juniors by 10, low-level adults by 12, A-grade adults by 14. Junior rep to (intra)state championship levels. Result pretty decent teen player without that much coaching. Opportunities? 90+% short-form games, that's what. Let's be honest. The opportunities and, therefore, the odds are with the coached hitters. The days of the young bush bat getting recognised for his hard work are numbered, because the demographics and geographics are against him, the facilities are often against him and, also, the system is against him. Top country 16 year olds playing a T20 tournament is of no assistance in producing Test batsmen. Yet it is on performances in such competitions and in one-dayers that judgements are made as to their readiness. That they're often not ready when they get to State U17s should be self-evident. I agree with Chappell, yet disagree that coached hitters have it wrong in today's environment.

Posted by Malik_Iftikhar on (April 7, 2013, 6:06 GMT)

There are many Examples where coaching killing the natural talent of Young Players example of this is Umer Akmal ,who played in U 19 and A team with natural talent and he scored and when he came in national coaches tried to make mature he lost his aggression and fearless attitude

Posted by Mr.PotatoesTomatoes on (April 7, 2013, 6:02 GMT)

Coaching in itself ain't bad.It's coaching with foggy,not clearly defined and understood aims and muddled perspective that we need to guard against.

Also there's a point to be made for nurturing talents who are clearly endowed differently.This would be the case of a Javed Miandad,a Dhoni,or a Chanderpaul.I have reasons to believe that such talents can't come out of coaching academies,not unless the coach is a sensible,clear-sighted,no air-head sort,who can appreciate the virtues of natural gifts.There's a tendency that is widespread in humans to impose structure and uniformity on others.We are not inherently very good at accepting differences and while conforming ourselves,impose it on others as well.That's the kind of coaching one does not want.On the point of youngsters picking up T20 adaptive bat skills early on, I again defer to Ian's views.Test cricket is the soul of cricket.But it would be unfair to blame only the coaches.It's up-to the administrators to revitalize test cricket.

Posted by indiasucksgobd on (April 7, 2013, 6:00 GMT)

Anamul haque bijoy scored the most runs in the under 19 world cup .and he gets no mention just because he is bangladeshi.i rate him far more than chand.

Posted by US_Indian on (April 7, 2013, 5:58 GMT)

Well coaching helps in polishing raw diamonds, developing the mental attitude, some strategical points etc but for that the person being coached has to have the talent, potential and most importantly the passion and hunger to strive , work hard, learn and grow and succeed. But overcoaching kills the natural talent though. Coaching kills when the coach tries not to understand the natural gift and talent and leaning of the pupil and work on the strengths one individual possess which is unique and tries to impose his/her own methodology or some coaching book stuff which does more harm than good because the pupil is neither here nor there and eventually ends up a loser. @rahul_78- sachin swears by his coach perfectly right because you have to be thankful to the guru who imparts knowledge which you would have never known but sachin possessed natural talent, the passion and hunger to learn and succeed and he did which others who were coached by Achrekar didnt posses so they didnt succeed.

Posted by ygkd on (April 7, 2013, 5:58 GMT)

I agree that a lot that are coached are ridiculously over-coached now and can't think for themselves. At all. Doing it the old tough way, however - like thinking it through with no protective gear on rough surfaces like cobbled streets etc is not necessarily going to work today. The problem is that the game has changed. If you see a young bloke with footwork, who's learnt to bat to a hard ball with no protective gear at a young age on a rough surface, so that his responses are sharp and pace, bouncers and spin are but open opportunities to him, where will he go? To a T20 match or to a 40/40 where his skill for long innings is never to be recognised? To a game where the hitter with no safe hook or full on-drive will still score at that level? It is often said that it doesn't matter how you score them, but that depends on how often you have to say it about an individual. Yet that's what you hear all the time. Good coaches would pick on shot selection and execution, not on mere runs made.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2013, 5:45 GMT)

The true Art of test cricket betting or even one day batting is disappearing. Even players like Hashim Amla try to force the issue in the first over & try to dominate in a one day game, Sometimes it pays off & sometimes it doesn't. I don't see e favouredtoo many with the technique & temprament to play a long fighting innings in test cricket. The ones who do have it like are brushed aside because they don't score quick enough as per Australian test standards and players like warner & others are favoured. and if ur not a good fielder, then ur case is even weaker. So you have to be a whole package to qualify for even test matches.

Posted by Clyde on (April 7, 2013, 5:43 GMT)

Gurus work because it is the student who chooses the guru, not the other way round. The sense of what is right for the student lies within the student. The guru or coach is peripheral, part of the student's environment. The problem with Australia's cricket seems to be that coaches have become the centre. It is still the students' fault. They need to tell the coaches how they can be useful, if they are useful at all. The media attention given to coaches, regarding them the way soccer coaches are regarded, almost as players, just shows that the media also have been blind to reality. That is, with the exception of the likes of Chappelli. Now, it is not for coaches to tell over-important coaches where to go. Batsmen who can do that will be the best batsmen. If they think they can average 50 or more at State level they probably will. Emphasis on 'will', or not being a puppet.

Posted by seeknshare on (April 7, 2013, 5:34 GMT)

Well...Tendulkar for one, was coached by one of the best coaches in Mumbai at that time - Ramakant Acharekar. So how could his example in the argument against coaching?

Posted by venkatesh018 on (April 7, 2013, 5:24 GMT)

So is Chappell saying hitters like Keiron Pollard can't succeed in Tests?

Posted by Rahul_78 on (April 7, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

"Coaching kills the batting star"...very debatable issue. For every Miandad and Sobers there is a Rahul Dravid. The natural flair and street smartness against the text book stuff, high elbows and still head. Sachin himself swears by his coach Mr.Achrekar. It all boils down to the Guru and his prodigy I guess. There are many examples of over coaching killing a natural talent but in equal measures there are stories of coaches polishing a rough diamond into sparkling gem. In India guru is worshiped as GOD and there are special holy festivals dedicated to the Guru. Respecting and obeying ones guru has been taught from Indian mythologies. Cant really argue against it.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (April 7, 2013, 4:32 GMT)

Why to blame a coach when whole world of cricket is changing from test cricket to T2020. Requirements are different now in batting than 50 years ago. No team is asking for classical old fashioned 300 run makers. Every team is looking for players like Gayle, Pollard, Afridi and many who can play 5 overs and score 50 runs and win a T2020 match.

Why to blame coaches when the trend has changed in whole cricket world. Accept the emergence of T2020 and accept the art of hard hitting instead of old school hashim amla style.

It's time to move on and live in future not in past.

Posted by   on (April 7, 2013, 3:50 GMT)

dont worry chappeli australia have good young batsmen coming through. i expect the likes of jordan silk, joe burns and usman khawaja to be the next batting stars of australian cricket.

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Ian ChappellClose
Ian Chappell Widely regarded as the best Australian captain of the last 50 years, Ian Chappell moulded a team in his image: tough, positive, and fearless. Even though Chappell sometimes risked defeat playing for a win, Australia did not lose a Test series under him between 1971 and 1975. He was an aggressive batsman himself, always ready to hook a bouncer and unafraid to use his feet against the spinners. In 1977 he played a lead role in the defection of a number of Australian players to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, which did not endear him to the administrators, who he regarded with contempt in any case. After retirement, he made an easy switch to television, where he has come to be known as a trenchant and fiercely independent voice.

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