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Life moves at a brisk pace

The chance to be involved with cricket at the national level is a challenge for coach Bharathi Arun

PHOTO: M. MOORTHY

POSITIVE OUTLOOK Bharathi Arun, head coach of the NCA’s bowling wing

For Bharathi Arun, cricket and life keep throwing up fresh challenges. The former India paceman is now the head coach of the National Cricket Academy’s bowling wing.

“The job gives me a chance to be involved with the country’s cricket. It is a great opportunity,” he says. The man from Chennai was in the city recently to take part in the NCA’s Level ‘A’ coaching course.

Arun was a pace-bowling all-rounder for Tamil Nadu and South Zone before breaking into the Indian team in the mid-80s. His international career was brief but he continued his association with the game as a coach.

Under Arun’s guidance, Tamil Nadu reached the final of the Ranji Trophy in 2002-03 and 2003-04 and won the all-India one-day competition twice.

He was also a key member of the last Tamil Nadu team to triumph in the Ranji Trophy, in 1987-88.

Ups and downs

His cricketing journey has taken him to different destinations; he was the coach of the Bengal Ranji side last season. Arun’s experience with a team in transition was a chequered one. Bengal was relegated from the Ranji Super League but made it to the final of the all-India one-day championship. Then, he received an offer from the NCA.

“The idea of good coaching is not to change a cricketer’s style. It is more about trying to get his style closer to the basics,” says Arun.

He elaborates, “You strive to improve him skill-wise so that he retains the best aspects of his game. It is an intricate thing.”

As the bowling coach guiding the cream of young bowling talent in the country, he is aware of the menace caused by illegal bowling action. “I think, if you are side-on, front-on or semi-open, you should be all right,” he says.

He then points out that bowlers with a past side-on release or those who open out too much are vulnerable to chucking. “An off-spinner cocking his wrist inwards could also end up with an illegal action. When you try to un-cock the wrist you tend to bend your elbow. And when you bend your elbow, you need to straighten it to get bite off the pitch. So an error can lead to other mistakes in your action. Eventually, everything boils down to body alignment,” says Arun.

Rectifying flaws

He stresses spotting and correcting the flaws early. “On a lot of occasions, the bowler is not aware of the chinks in his action. You see him at the nets and then use video analysis to make him realise where he is going wrong.”

Injury prevention, especially in the case of budding pacemen, is another area high on Arun’s list of priorities. “A bowler has to find the right mix between the physical training and how it blends with his technique. It is a combination of physical work and your technique getting better that makes a paceman less likely to break down. We also give him a follow-up routine during the periods he is away from the NCA. Consistency in the training methods is very important,” he says. The management of a young paceman’s workload is another key area.

Fitness and strength of mind, he says, are related. “If you are strong physically, you know you can last the course.”

Arun is aware of the need to educate the boys about the ill-effects of consuming banned substances. “We, at the NCA, again emphasise on prevention. Classes are conducted for the boys by specialists. Before they take any pill or other substance, the boys have to get it cleared by the physio.”

He is pleased with the bowling talent at the NCA, in both pace and spin. “It’s about them getting the right opportunities at the right time,” Arun adds.

Arun looks forward to the period ahead with optimism.

S. DINAKAR

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