Friday, Dec 19, 2014

How Prasanna Agoram went from mentoring India’s Next Gen to plotting their fall

Written by Bharat Sundaresan | Johannesburg | Posted: December 4, 2013 2:19 am

It was a reunion that Prasanna Agoram was looking forward to — and preparing himself for — ever since the Indian tour to South Africa had been announced. Even so,the Proteas’ performance analyst had goosebumps as walked into the restaurant of the Sandton Sun Hotel for breakfast on Monday. The Indian team had just arrived in South Africa and were making their presence felt.

Prasanna’s vigilant eyes,though,were seeking out his ‘boys’ — men who had become superstars but who,for Prasanna,remained the same starry-eyed kids desperate to make the grade up from junior cricket,approximately six years ago. This was to be an unofficial reunification for the U-19 class of 2005-06.

“I didn’t know who to hug first. As I gave Virat a big hug,I saw Rohit (Sharma),Chintu (Pujara),Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma. These were my boys,who I had seen since they were in short pants at the U-15 level. The memories came flooding back,” says Prasanna,a grin plastered on his face.

He sounds like a doting guardian. “When I see Jadeja,he is following the trend of growing a massive moustache. But for me,they will always be my kids,” he says. “I still remember when these guys were at the U-19 level,at the NCA,their sleeping hours were decided by the coaches and they would be scared to even step out of their room.”

Since late 2010,Prasanna has become an integral part of the South African side. His technical and analytical inputs have earned high praise from the likes of Hashim Amla,Graeme Smith and every coach they have had during his tenure.

FIRST STRIDES

BUT it was during the mid-2000s at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore that the whizkid from Chennai began taking his first strides along a unique path not tread previously in the cricketing world. On it,he came across the cream of talent making their way up.

“At that time,all the scorecards from every nook and corner of the country would come to me at the NCA. I was very keen to see this Virat Kohli,who had scored three consecutive double-centuries at the U-17 level. When I did,I knew he was India material straight up,” recalls Prasanna. “Then I remember a cover drive Rohit played,which I can never forget,against an Australian U-19 team in Dharamshala. It was class.”

Then came the stint as video analyst of the India U-19 team at the 2006 World Cup in Sri Lanka. That team included Rohit,Pujara and Jadeja,but more importantly,it would prove to be the turning point for Prasanna.

“It was the major assignment of my life and there’s been no turning back. Thanks to Venkatesh Prasad who gave me a line,which I’ve made a mile. The contribution I’m making to the South African team is a lot more than what I did back then. I was learning my role. They would come to me whenever they wanted to have a nice positive chat or be motivated,” he says.

In his bid to inspire his wards,Prasanna even came up with a unique motivational video,a trend that he follows even now with the South Africans. continued…

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