Mike Young praises India Under-19's fielding
Mike Young has praised the fielding techniques of India's Under-19 World Cup squad, which is currently training at the Bandra-Kurla Cricket ground in Mumbai. Young, the former Australia fielding coach, is currently with the Indian team as a consultant during the ODI series against Sri Lanka and had a day-long stop over on Wednesday after the BCCI asked him to spend some time with the youngsters.
"If what I witnessed today is an indicator of what the future holds for India at the senior international level, then that future looks very bright," Young told Cricinfo. The defending champions are preparing for the Under-19 World Cup which starts on January 15 in New Zealand, but before that they leave for a short warm-up series in South Africa on December 20.
Young, whose expertise is baseball, got addicted to cricket late in his coaching career and successfully helped Australia become one of the best fielding units this decade. He is sought after for his radical thoughts on fielding methods and worked briefly with New Zealand before the stint with India.
Young said he did not want to introduce anything new to the Under-19 players' preparation. Impressed by coach Chandrakant Pandit's "terrific" understanding of his athletes and the fundamentals of fielding, Young only validated the drills taught by the former Indian wicketkeeper. "Energy and having fun when fielding, that is what I asked them to focus on," he said.
Ground fielding is an area where Indians have displayed weakness, and Young demonstrated the positions that would aid the fielder get his body behind the ball and quickly release it. "From a technical standpoint - low body height, balance and how those lead to being in an explosive and aggressive attacking position on balls along the ground."
What impressed Young most was the involvement of the players, some of whom could explain the idea behind his methods. "Many of them spoke up and explained how what we had just done felt to them. It was a tremendous sign of them truly wanting to learn and improve but more importantly, wanting to understand the most effective way to do so."
Two years ago Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Manish Pandey emerged from the 2008 U-19 World Cup victory as the most promising fielders. This time, Young was optimistic about India's fielders being among the best in New Zealand if they play with the same kind of energy. "I came away from that training session with a very excited feeling," Young said.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo