'Focus on handling pressure'

U-19 lads begin preparation for World Cup with camp in Bangalore

'Focus on handling pressure'

In her well-researched essay ‘Cricket: the batting mindset’, Hannah Newman, Essex’s community coach, narrates the pressures cricketers face in their professional life. Newman traces its genesis to players’ nervousness that cloud their thinking process, creating doubts in their ability to deliver at crunch times.

Even the veterans, who have played the game at the highest level for several years, she says, could be vulnerable to that debilitating state of mind. So, there’s every chance the under-19 players, full of dreams about brighter tomorrows, could suffer from that infirmity before or during as massive a tournament as the World Cup.
In that context, it wasn’t very surprising to hear the current India under-19 coach Bharat Arun speaking about focusing on mental aspects during a three-week long camp, which began here on Tuesday, ahead of the World Cup. “Onus of this camp will be clear role-definition and the clarity of mind to stay present and on track. The players understand their strength but will define their roles, training them how their strengths are going to help the team. There will be pressure from their peers, parents and well wishers telling them it’s the World Cup and they need to do well. The focus is on teaching players how to handle pressure. It will be the main focus area of the camp though I am not undermining the technical area. But if you see there is little time to make technical adjustments before the World Cup,” said Arun.

The former India pacer said a three-day boot-camp in Wayanad, Kerala, would give him the perfect environment, a zone away from cricket. Arun explained the thought behind the boot-camp. “We have planned a boot-camp in a non-cricketing atmosphere to create more interaction between players, the support staff and more importantly amongst the players. Even when they go on tour they don’t interact but here I want a clear cut interaction between all of us. The activities that they are going to do are nothing related to cricket. Basically, I want to teach players how to handle pressure in unforeseen circumstances.”

To underscore his point, Arun spoke about the examples of Sanju Samson and Vijay Zol, the brightest batting stars in this India under-19 team. “If you look at the performance of the team we have been very consistent. Out of the last 25 matches we played we have lost only two. But we are constantly looking to improve. Sanju Samson and Vijay Zol got hundreds during the Asia Cup but once they got their centuries they threw it away. So, if you really look to improve it’s in the mind and not in the game. So, mentally the players need to improve,” noted Arun.

Zol may miss Ranji final

Vijay Zol, the India under-19 captain from Maharashtra, may miss the Ranji Trophy final against Karnataka starting from January 28 at Hyderabad. Bharat Arun, coach of India under-19, expressed his desire to keep Zol in the camp for the World Cup-bound Indian colts. “Vijay is the captain of the team. We are setting certain roles in the camp and he needs to understand those roles along with the other players. Obviously, it will be wonderful if he spends more time in the camp.”   

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