Woodhill endorses growing prowess of Indian fielders

Woodhill endorses growing prowess of Indian fielders

Woodhill endorses growing prowess of Indian fielders

For long, India were never known for their fielding skills. Many of them used to be lethargic while a few could be described as safe. We did have the likes of a MAK Pataudi or a Mohammad Azharuddin or an Ajay Jadeja, for example, who could rival the best in the world. But they were few and far between.

Times, however, have changed for the better over the last decade or so. Today, India possess several worldclass fielders, a fact not lost on Jonty Rhodes who recently remarked that the country was full of excellent fielders. Trent Woodhill, who is the batting and fielding coach of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, endorsed Rhodes’ views.      “Five or six years ago, yes,” said Woodhill when asked if he sees any difference in the quality between Indian and foriegn fielders. “Now, when you look at Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma – those three can hold their own with anyone else. I think AB (de Villiers) sits above everybody. He’s graceful, his awareness is fantastic but I wouldn’t trade Virat for anyone and at some stage he’ll be the world’s best. The days of the subcontinent teams being behind the world in terms of fielding have passed. Now, they’re actually challenging other nations,” he explained.

Boundary catching has assumed the proportion of art. Whether it was Chris Lynn’s breathtaking effort on the edge of the boundary to dismiss de Villiers or Mitchell Starc’s excellently balanced running catch on the line to send Glenn Maxwell back, it’s as much about skill as it’s about hard work.    

“Steve Smith is an excellent proponent of that and Dwayne Smith as well,” Woodhill pointed out. “It’s amazing how often they pull balls back. Guys like that challenge of being able to stop a six or turning it into a wicket. The trick is not to try to do too much too early. It’s a skill you have to learn. Fielding is about attitude and intensity. We’ve dropped four catches but we’ve been as good as anyone on the ground.”

Woodhill, who has also been David Warner’s personal coach, blamed batting for RCB’s three consecutive losses. “We haven’t scored enough runs,” he admitted. “The bowling and the fielding have been excellent. The batsmen didn’t close out the Kolkata Knight Riders game and we probably took that mindset into the Rajasthan Royals game and we just didn’t start well in the last game against Kings XI Punjab,” he reasoned. 

In the same breath, Woodhill backed Bangalore’s star-studded batting to come good. “It’s easy to isolate matches and isolate a bad performance but if you look at their careers, that is what you are coaching. You are coaching their careers.  If you think ‘okay it didn’t fire today, we need to do something,’ that’s when things will go horribly wrong. They’ve all got good records and they’ve all contributed in little parts. It’s about them feeling good. My role is to ensure they are preparing the way they would want to prepare as opposed to me telling them how to,” he offered. 

Woodhill, who was employed as batting consultant by Pakistan for the Champions Trophy in England last year, said a tournament like IPL isn’t about teaching technique. “It’s all about freeing players of stress and trying to make sure they are in an environment where they want to succeed. This isn’t a tournament for technique. The time for technique is the pre-season where you refine skills. Here you’re trying to unlock players’ strengths. It’s a tournament we know – with the pressure, the crowds – that can open up weaknesses so it’s all about making batsmen feel good and bring out the best of their abilities rather than trying to add to it,” he explained.