Dubai: Trust students to outshine their teachers. And that’s exactly what happened at Sunday morning’s practice session of the Sunrisers Hyderabad as the players outdid the coaching staff in a friendly competition at the ICC Academy training grounds in Dubai.
Led by assistant coach Brad Haddin, the Sunrisers were informed about a ‘competition’ between them and the support staff. Meant to be a “short and sharp” affair between the two impromptu teams, Haddin explained that they would be “having a bit of a throw-in competition”.
“We will get a bit in fielding out there and make a competition with two groups,” the assistant coach explained.
The rules were simple. There would be two teams, one of the support staff and the second one comprising active players. There would be four targets with each team getting one chance to strike a stump. Striking one target would move the team to the next level, with the first team to strike all four targets and a bonus centre target would be declared the winner.
Speculations immediately went wild, especially among the players with left-handed batsman and wicketkeeper Shreevats Goswami pronouncing that the players would win simply because “the average age of the support staff is 45”.
Slow left-arm orthodox bowler Shahbaz Nadeem, on the other hand, was uncertain about the ‘competition’ announced by Haddin and reckoned that the support staff had the edge over the players. “I thought it was a running competition. I see few of the support staff who just keep running in the gym. So, if it’s a running competition then they will definitely win,” the 31-year-old from Muzaffarpur felt.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, who was among the last to join the official practice sessions of the squad last week, preferred to walk with respect considering the age of their opponents. “We should have them in speed and agility, but we will have to wait and see,” the batsman said.
Ace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar was full of confidence ahead of the contest. “The youngest support staff is around 45. So that does not make any difference,” he admitted.
Former Sri Lankan cricketer Mario Villavarayan, who has joined the Sunrisers as the strength and conditioning coach this season, remained adamant about his team’s chances in the competition. “I’m a soft target, is it?” he queried.
“Maybe that’s why they think I am soft. Let’s see how it goes,” he added.
The pairing of Abhishek Sharma and Priyam Garg were far too confident. In fact, they were eager to settle the score once and for all. “Today their misunderstanding will get cleared,” Sharma aired.
“We will clear this misunderstanding. Remember this!” Garg cautioned.
Once the competition commenced, Williamson, Manish Pandey and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were on target for the players, while Australians Trevor Bayliss and Haddin hit the stump for the support staff. But, former Indian middle order great VVS Laxman and Villavarayan just missed out - handing out the win to the players.
Perhaps, Sunday’s short and sharp exercise brought to mind American novelist and short story writer Gail Godwin’s words of wisdom wherein: “good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theatre.”