Dubai: The pan-India lockdown may be playing havoc with the sporting schedule all over the world, but VVS Laxman - the wristy genius of Indian batting - has decided to make this lull period count as well. Donning the cap of the batting consultant for Bengal team, Laxman has been engaging himself online with selected batsmen and the Ranji Trophy runners-up team’s think tank to kickstart their preparation for the 2020-21 season.
Last Friday, he logged in with two of Bengal’s promising batsmen - Koushik Ghosh and Agniv Pan - to hold court on specific subjects for 45 minutes each. Participating in the Google duo chat room were also the state’s head coach and former Indian opener Arun Lal, under-23 coach Sourasish Lahiri and Joydeep Mukherjee, manager, cricket operations of the state.
This was the second such session as on previous Monday, Laxman & Co had similar workshops with Abhishek Raman and Kazi Junaid Saifi and the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) plans to make it an ongoing process with the senior batsmen of the team scheduled to join later.
The state, led by Abhimanyu Eshwaran, had plenty of positives from the last Ranji season when they made the final of India’s premier domestic tournament with a number of shock wins but came up short in the final against Cheteshwar Pujara’s Baroda. A post mortem of the team’s performance revealed that while the bowling department came out with flying colours, the team’s top order batsmen betrayed inconsistency time and again - an area where the team management wanted to address early this year.
Speaking to Gulf News in a phone interview, Avishek Dalmiya, the young president of CAB explained the rationale behind such a move. ‘‘Laxman, who was roped in by CAB for our Vision 2020 programme quite a few years back by our erstwhile president Sourav Ganguly, was free during this period and we thought of making use of the time as our cricketers are also at home. The right way to do it was to engage them with mentors and coaches who would analyse their performances from the previous season and chalk out ways so that the flaws are ironed out next season,” said Dalmiya, son of late Jagmohan Dalmiya, the legendary cricket administrator.
The right way to do it was to engage them with mentors and coaches who would analyse their performances from the previous season and chalk out ways so that the flaws are ironed out next season
Once the blueprint was drawn up, it was left to Joydeep Mukherjee to organise video clips of the batsmen concerned - alongwith their dismissals - and send it across to Laxman for scrutiny.
A former Bengal allrounder of repute, Mukherjee shared the agenda of the last session. ‘‘The issues that we discussed with Koushik (Ghosh) was how to convert starts into big runs, shot selection, how to change gears after doing all the hard work, playing the new ball in difficult conditions and hence improve the strike rate.
‘‘In Agniv’s (Pan) case, we broke it down to the following points: attitude, body language, how to take responsibility, how to take his game to the next level now that his U-23 days are over and eventually, energy, attitude and approach,’’ he observed.
What has been the feedback of the players? “It was a very useful and important session. Laxman sir was sharing his experience with me, how it is normal to be nervous, to be doubtful but at the same time one needs to keep faith in himself and his abilities. What I learnt today is cricket is a learning process and you have to be consistent in your thought and preparation,” Kazi said.
“The session was not much about technique but it was more about mental issues and mindset for the game. We will do these sessions with not only the senior players but also with the U16, U19 and U23 players once the lockdown is over and travelling is allowed. We are also running a simultaneous online fitness training programme for each team member,” Mukherjee noted.