Having been steeped in the uniquely Australian way of coaching during a two week course at the Australian Cricket Academy a short while ago, Roger Binny was readily willing to talk about his experiences there.
"The course was a very different one from what we normally do on a cricket field. It's not just coaching the basics of cricket, it was about getting to know the player much better, getting to interact much better," he said. In response to a query on the mental aspects of the game being emphasised there, Binny noted that they actually put you into certain situations during the training sessions, test your reactions and try and talk you into handling the situation. "Its drilled into the player that he's at the pitch, the team is five down and the score is 40, the situation is very tense, what exactly will he do, whether he's going to defend, attack or just hang around," these are the sort of situations a player may be thrust into, Binny said.
Speaking about the facilities there, Binny pointed out that "the ACA has a very modern setup. There are a lot of video shooting on the players' techniques, lot of biomechanics, basically a very scientific approach. It's nothing like just nets, nets, nets."
The amount of attention they gave to each single detail is phenomenal, Binny indicated. ``Take just your delivery stride, they work on it for 5-6 sessions. Just one stride, they make you do it until you perfect it." Asked about the attributes of a good coach, he held that "first you've got to be real patient and you've got to like what you're doing. Got to get down deep into a player, not just into his mind but into his heart and be a part of him, be a friend to him, treat him like your son."
With regard to the schedule that has been chalked out for the boys at the National Cricket Academy, Binny disclosed that "we do have a programme chalked out for six weeks. In a six day programme, we have three net sessions, three stretching, three swimming, three running sessions all clubbed on different days. Every alternate day we do nets, There's not much of net practise here, if you see for the next 4-5 months there's not much cricket for them except those selected for the Asia Cup, so they don't really need to go into the nets". He also said that the bowlers were being encouraged to tone up their batting skills. "You never know the situation of a match, there may be 20 runs to get, seven down, just two bowlers left, normally everyone gives up, but if those two people can bat...", he trailed off.
Referring to the exclusion of Ravneet Ricky from the batch of 24, Binny observed that "Ravneet and Manish Sharma, both are in the second batch. It's just that we didn't want to club everybody together. It's very difficult if you've got 8-9 batsmen to work with. We've tried to break up the batsmen, all rounders, bowlers so that we have a lot of time with them." But he added that "this batch is not going to be with us for good. We're going to start to weed out guys. At that time we'll take someone else and fit them into that slot. Weeding out keeps everybody on their toes. We won't have a tendency where you say, `ok, I've made it to the academy, so that's it, my thing is made'. We want them to work and become better players and if they play for the country it even makes the academy better."
Binny is one of the most friendly and understanding persons around. It certainly shows in the way the boys look up to him, and added to the depth of his cricketing knowledge, it makes you feel reassured that the boys are in safe hands here.