August 29, 2003

New Zealand look to replicate Indian conditions during training

Wisden CricInfo staff

New Zealand, under interim coach Ashley Ross, are going to great lengths to replicate the conditions that they are likely to face on their tour of India next month, and their final training camp - at Christchurch next week - will feature noisy headphones and dirty pitches.

Ross is trying to acclimatise New Zealand's players to every scenario they are likely to face on Indian grounds, developing their mental strength by looking at how other experts, such as violinists and chess players, learned to cope with stress.

"We've done similar things in the past before heading to India and Sri Lanka and the players are always receptive to new ideas that are going to make them better players," said Ross to The Dominion Post.

The batsmen will practice on indoor artificial pitches with dirt, string and paper sprinkled on them. Ross is also keenly aware of noise levels in Indian stadia; at a recent coaching programme, he had a group of 10-year-olds shout constantly for 15 minutes at Matthew Sinclair when he was batting. At the camp, batsmen will don headphones under their helmets, and CDs with sudden noises will play through them during batting sessions.

"The basic concept is looking at different ways of stressing our athletes," Ross said. "If they can survive batting in an unpleasant training environment then it has to help their mental strength."