Anshuman Gaekwad: Top level coaching involves a lot more man management

Anshuman Gaekwad, a former India opener, coached India in the late 1990s. He was India’s last home-grown full-time coach as the board then moved overseas to look for options. Nishad Pai Vaidya caught up with Gaekwad and spoke to him about how coaching has changed with the advent of T20 cricket.

Excerpts from an interview:

CricLife (CL): How different is coaching today compared to what it was when you were the coach of the Indian team in the late 1990s?

Anshuman Gaekwad (AG): With the senior boys, it isn’t not much coaching like you need with the juniors. There is a lot more man management. Yes, there is a bit of coaching which is where you keep a watch on them because you cannot change too much at that level. But, if anything goes wrong, they develop bad habits, or faults, they have to be corrected. That is what you can do. Coming to coaching then and now — the game has not changed. The game has remained the same; only the approach has changed because of T20 and one-day matches. Earlier, we used to see that Test matches used to go on for all five days and still not have results. Now you find Tests getting over in four and a half days. So, the approach is a lot more positive now. When it comes to coaching, I think there isn’t much difference as technique has remained the same. You have little adjustments done, but there isn’t much you can change.

CL: Speaking of man management, how much of mentorship is involved in coaching an international team?

AG: That is always there. They may have some fault, nothing major, but some fault may come up — which is very human. That is where mentoring is very important. Mentors keep them focused, keep them in shape and push them at the right time. That job is not only on the field, but off it as well. That is where the mentor comes in.

CL: Today, batsmen are playing many unorthodox shots. In that way the approach has changed…

AG: When you talk about T20, you don’t have much time. If you see IPL 1, 2 and 3 and then see the last three versions, you could see a lot of cross-batted shots in the former. In the latter, you would have seen they are playing cricketing shots, a lot along the ground and not hitting cross-batted too many times. Scoops etc. are all improvisations. I always believe that if you are a good Test cricketer with basics in place, you could be a good one-day player where there is improvisation to find gaps and score runs. If you are talking about then and now, I think the game has improved. There is improvisation in the game. But, the basic shots remain the same.

CL: So, do you think the basics get eroded when some of the youngsters are exposed to T20 cricket and play all those shots?

AG: If you ask me, I would not advocate any youngster watching T20, especially batsmen, and then emulating them and playing those kind of shots. The reason being that those playing the IPL have already got their basics right and then they are trying them. The youngsters, who have not got their basics correct and they try to play those shots, they might spoil their career.

CL: Looking back, do you think coaching is a more stressful job today with a lot of travel etc?

AG: It goes hand in hand. You talk about the money you are getting or the travel and the kind of matches you are playing. If you are a bowler, you have to be on the field for an hour and a half and bowl only four overs and get paid — travel doesn’t matter. It just goes with it.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Mumbai-based cricket journalist and one of the youngest to cover the three major cricketing events — ICC World Cup, World T20 and under-19 World Cup. He tweets as @nishad_45)


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