It is amazing how quickly you can get yourself into a routine. I have been busy writing up programs, testing players, doing sessions on speed, recovery and general warm ups. Just about every day I am at this computer “talking” to someone about India, sport, cricket, AFL, Melbourne or whatever. It is great to be half way around the world and yet just a computer access pass away.
Yesterday was so hot and humid here. It absolutely bucketed down in the morning which put paid to any thought of doing a cricket session at the nets – the wickets would be far too sticky. We did general assessments on the players mainly to do with physiotherapy screening, anatomical assessments and skinfolds. Certainly different bodies to AFL – not as lean, not as tall, more flexible.
These cricket players are the same as AFL players in that they have a competitive streak even if it is to be first to be tested, play a joke on a team mate or find a flaw in the testing approach. I have been impressed with their professionalism from the first day. You only have to ask for things to be done once. It has always been done correctly. They do the little things. And they don’t mind being challenged to do that bit extra. I must admit, this was not the situation that I was expecting.
One of the hardest things so far has been names. Not only have the players got complicated sounding names from an Australian perspective, they have variations on those in both sound and spelling and they almost invariably have a nick name. I cannot keep calling them all mate so I have photographed them and have been memorising as quickly as I can. So far so good, but it still gets a bit confusing when testing or assessing and you have to record details in a hurry.
My grasp of Bengalese has increased 200% since I arrived in India. I now know 2 words – shabas (this is how it sounds anyway) = good. Shesh = finished. I say shabas a lot during the sessions and sometimes not shabas and only have to say shesh the once!
After the rain had stopped and we had achieved all of the testing needs for the day, I had the players do a speed session just outside my room. It’s a beautiful lawn that looks like a manicured golf course. Flat, close mown, green grass. It was very soft after the rain and as the morning got hotter it almost felt like it was raining in reverse! The moisture was literally being sucked out of the ground. I got the players to do some technical work on acceleration, body position, top end speed and repeat effort. I introduced them to the release harness from Sparq which they enjoyed. It was a hard session in the conditions but I could see that they were improving as the session went on and that they were enjoying it too.
This was good for me as well. At the end of the day, I have wanted to be a coach. That’s what I do. And that’s what I did yesterday, will do today and tomorrow. The aim is to improve the individuals performance. And that’s what I enjoy doing. I must say as far as coaching goes, it can be interesting coaching a group in English and then listening to your instructions being relayed in Hindi or Bengalese. Certainly a different experience.
I decided to play the game of nutritional roulette again last night and went to a restaurant here called Hot Millions. I had dinner with Jock Campbell (Australia) who oversees the strength and conditioning coaches in the ICL and also looks after the strength and conditioning for the Chandigargh Lions. Jock used to be the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Australian Cricket team. He knows his stuff and runs a great program from what I can see for the Inidan Cricket League (ICL). Also at the dinner last night was the physiotherapist from the Chandigargh Lions, Tim Brennan (Australia), the ICL medical doctor, The dhaka Warriors physiotherapist Leroy Lobo, Warriors masseuse Mitch Sturt and myself.
It wasn’t a bad meal but Mitch had a few ups and downs as the night wore on! I know it is only a matter of time…..
Today was to be the players practice game against the Chandigargh Lions. Finally the players gear has arrived and they all looked pretty good as we went through our warm up. Bearing in mind that the players have not played any cricket for a while, they were all very excited at the prospect of this game today. The Lions are a well drilled team whom have been together a fair while. They won the game of 20/20 today by 46 runs. It will be interesting to see what happens in the game proper in the coming weeks.
For me it was a case of that 90 degree learning curve. I made out a list of what I will need to be doing come round 1 later in the week. Just simple things like keeping players moving, positioning of drinks, procedures for weighing players, being organised for changeover and meals, checking meal temperatures to ensure player safety, layout of the changerooms and so on and so on and so on. One funny thing that happened today involved getting the ice tubs ready for after the match.
They had this massive black tub in the corner of the changerooms. They did not want me to do it as they had this young Indian boy named Sabil, whose role was to get the tubs ready for me. I left him in the rooms with a bucket that a 6 year old would take to the beach on the weekend and he was walking 15m from a tap to the tub filling the ice tub at an excruciatingly slow pace.
About one hour later he comes outside and calls “Mr John, I think I have finished your little job…” I go inside and the water would have been ankle depth. I look at his expectant face and say “Sabil, we are not trying to just rehabilitate their ankles. They cannot lie down in here. You need to add about another meter to this”. “Oh my God” came his reply.
I saw him about 10 minutes later triumphantly carrying a red hose into the change rooms. Sure enough, 30 minutes later he reappears with the news: “Mr John, I have done it this time!”
Back in I go. “”Sabil, indeed you have. Well done. Now you need to put ice in the water to get it very cold for the players”. “How much ice? ” he asked. I suggested about 4 bags. “No problems sir” said Sabil.
I go outside again and once more, about 20 minutes later, Sabil reappears with a confident smile that the tubs are ready. When I get inside, I cannot believe my eyes. The tubs are full of 5 ice blocks, big enough to sink the Titanic. I looked at Sabil – I just couldn’t say anything. He looked at me and said ; “That should be very cold for them, Mr John!” “Yes, I think it will, Sabil” I replied.
By the time the game ended most of the Titanic breakers had melted down to next to nothing. As the players got into the tubs one by one, the screams of pain as the ice hit their hot bodies proved Sabil to be correct. It was very cold for them!
And finally, as the last player dragged himself out of the tubs and showers we were off in a chaos of traffic, roaming cows and beautiful gardens to our hotel in Chandigarh. I’m going across the road for dinner tonight – keep playing while you’re in front I guess. And then I will sit back and reflect on this day where I wasn’t quite drowning in this new culture of cricket and India, but more like waving my hands in stressed exasperation whilst trying to stay calm.
I am sure that when I think about this day I will remember two things:
1. That it was overall pretty shabas and
2. Thank God that it is sheshed!
Picture shows Mitch Sturt with helpers and some of those Titanic Ice Breakers!