Dubai: The Pakistan team’s batting coach Grant Flower wants youngsters to embrace all sports — just like South African star player AB De Villiers did when he was a boy.
Flower, while visiting the Kings Al Barsha School in Dubai as part of the Pro Coach Cricket Academy High Performance Programme being conducted by Kobus Olivier, a South African Level 3 coach and owner of Pro Coach Cricket Academy, told the students: “Don’t specialise at too young an age. Play all sports till the age of 17 or 18. De Villiers played all sports — rugby, tennis, hockey and cricket till he specialised in cricket by 18.”
Flower, who knew brilliantly how to adapt to Test and One-day cricket while representing Zimbabwe, guiding them to many glorious victories, added: “It’s very important to know your game once you start playing. If you know you are not good at hooking and cutting, don’t play those shots and leave short and wide balls.”
As for training, his advice for the children was: “Practice with purpose and set goals every practice session.”
When the children asked him who his favourite players were, Flower replied: “The best batsman I played ever against was Sachin Tendulkar. He was a humble man too despite his success. The best bowler was Wasim Akram who could swing the ball even at 140kmph.”
Flower was well known for his ability to play long innings and his highest score in Test cricket was against Pakistan. He cracked an unbeaten 201 against an attack led by the man he so admires, Akram, besides his fellow pacers and former UAE coaches, Aaqib Javed and Kabir Khan. His tip to play a long innings was: “When you bat for long periods, learn to switch your concentration on and off between the balls. No one can concentrate from 10 am to 6pm non-stop. Also learn to break your innings into sessions.”
Flower then went on to praise the facilities offered by the school to encourage sporting pursuits.
Alan Williamson, Principal of Kings Al Barsha, said: Our school is aiming to become the school of choice for parents and kids who are serious about their sport.”
The school incidentally is the first in Dubai to provide cricket scholarships to talented players.
Pakistan team fitness coach Grant Luden talked about the importance of avoiding injuries when playing at the top level. “Giving emphasis on fitness is important because, in case you realise you won’t make it as a player at the highest level, one can study sports science and become a fitness coach for a top team and be involved in a career in sports,” he said.