catching practice to the wicketkeeper and the regular slip fielders, the coach made use of the barrel bat and the broom. Both had advantages over traditional equipment. Just ask CM Gautam, the wicketkeeper.
Gautam puts down his 80-odd dismissals over two seasons to Arun’s originality. “When the ball hits the bristles of the broom and passes through it, it gives out a sounds similar to what occurs when there is an edge in a match. When the regular bat is angled and used for catching practice, the sound is not what is produced when the ball is edged,” he says. “During a game when I used to hear the edge my fingers would stiffen because I wasn’t practising to the same sound. After catching off the broom, my fingers are now relaxed when an edge comes my way in matches.”
The baseball bat, on the other hand, is used to train slip fielders with Arun attempting to play proper cricketing shots like the cover drive and the cut. “It is amazing how he is able to play shots with the baseball bat and also provide edges for catching practice,” adds Gautam.
Arun feels the advantage is that when he plays shots with the baseball bat, the velocity of the ball doesn’t reduce as much as it does when compared to a cricket bat. “The idea came to me because I don’t stick to only the textbook coaching method,” the coach says. But even before he became a coach, Arun gave the impression that he marched to the tune of a different drummer.
Rahul Dravid, JAK’s senior in college, claims that he wasn’t ever a conformist. “I remember JAK as someone who has always been different. I recall in one particular Shafi Darasha match JAK was playing against a team that had Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad, who were pretty quick back then. JAK went out to play with an unusually heavy bat (1.8 kilograms), which he had got made. I was wondering how he would cope,” says Dravid, still amazed. “But his logic worked. It went something like this. Because he was playing with a heavy bat, he wouldn’t move it too much and on contact, the ball would go for boundaries. He scored 70-odd in that innings.”
Unconventional wisdom, added on top of a strong cricketing foundation, is the secret to JAK’s success, feels Dravid. “He has done his coaching courses and has the experience of playing for Karnataka for many years with distinction. JAK and MAK have created the right kind of environment in the Karnataka dressing room and it is working as the youngsters are coming into the team and performing straight away,” Dravid says. Then he adds: “It also helps that as a coach JAK is one among the boys and not a dictator.”
JAK sports more tattoos than the average Indian cricketer of this generation. The current lot have helped in the mushrooming of the tattoo culture but none of them can lay claim to being the pioneer. In 2004, when continued…