David Miller batting with a stump during the nets session. Photo Courtesy: Nishad Pai Vaidya
David Miller batting with a stump during the nets session. Photo Courtesy: Nishad Pai Vaidya

In training, South Africa are one of the most professional sides going around. Their focus is incredible as they try to get it right in all departments. As they prepared for the ICC World Cup 2015 game against India, they indulged in some innovative ways to practice. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about the fun, yet serious drills.

Trust the South Africans to come up with innovative ways to train ahead of a game. As they prepared for their ICC World Cup 2015 clash against India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), some people were treated to some unfamiliar methods at training. With a support staff comprising the likes of Russell Domingo, Allan Donald, Charl Langeveldt, Gary Kirsten, Claude Henderson and Michael Hussey, the South Africans are in good hands. Watching them train is a delight for the camaraderie in the unit and individual flair is so obvious. Here are some of the unfamiliar training methods employed by South Africa at the MCG:

1.    Sepak Takraw: This is actually played at the Asian Games and is a mixture of football and volleyball. Instead of using hands, the players on both sides of the net have to use their feet and head. Unlike volleyball, you are allowed to hit the ball on the bounce. The South Africans started off with that in the morning on Friday. It was a fun-filled game, with both sides competing fiercly. There were a few laughs shared, when there was an accidental handball or a mistake. Once again, Jean-Paul Duminy gave it a whack. Even during football warm-up the other day, he kicked it the hardest toward the goal. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: POINTS TABLE

2.    Michael Hussey’s fielding competition: Hussey brought out an interesting competition to fielding. He divided the unit into two teams. There were two stumps placed at some distance, with a man standing by with a ball. The support staff had to roll the ball along the ground to the team, and one from each unit had to come forward and throw it to the stumps. Whichever team got the ball to reach the stumps first was awarded a point. Obviously, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis were not kept on the same side. De Villiers started things, but his throw was way over Quinton de Kock’s head, who was standing by one of the stumps. But, as it progressed, de Villiers mastered the art of foxing the opposition.

3.    David Miller’s stump ritual: On Wednesday, David Miller caught the attention by batting with a stump in the nets. He would face certain throwdowns and only use the stump in his defence. On Friday, coach Russell Domingo delivered those throwdowns and Miller played with a stump to warm-up. A few were hit well. Others took the edge and went elsewhere. Miller then moved to a proper practice as he took the bat and put the helmet on. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: SCHEDULE & MATCH DETAILS

4.    Imran Tahir’s caught and bowled practice: On many occasions, Imran Tahir tends to get batsmen out caught and bowled. This is why, the South Africans ensure that he gets enough practice of catching in his follow through. Greg King and Allan Donald were on the side of the nets with Tahir and asked him to bowl. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Complete Coverage

Donald was standing where the batsman would and had a hard tennis ball and a raquet with him. Tahir would then bowl with his normal action and as the ball would pass Donald, he would hit the tennis ball with the racquet towards Tahir, who had the task of reacting and taking the catch. On one occasion, Donald hit the tennis ball and the leather ball. Both went back towards Tahir, who fortunately caught the tennis ball. This showed that he was focused.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)