Over 7,000 km away from Team India’s phenomenal success in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup in Down Under, Kolkata is scripting a different kind of tale, but not very different.
Even as the entire country is ‘Bleeding Blue’, the city’s coaching centres have taken it upon themselves to groom India’s future stars, who — buoyed by India’s unbeaten record in the ongoing tournament — are thronging the sporting academies as we speak.
Among the city’s most high-profile cricket clinics, Mainland Sambaran Cricket Academy in South Kolkata had close to 500 trainees before the start of the World Cup. Its strength has jumped over 600 in less than a month. “India’s golden run is the obvious reason. Not only are they winning matches, but they’re getting over the line with style and swagger. Their brand of cricket has captured the imagination of the young fans, who are coming in droves to learn the game,” academy head and former Ranji Trophy-winning captain of Bengal, Sambaran Banerjee told The Sunday Express.
Former Indian cricketer Gopal Bose, who is in charge of Cricket Club of Dhakuria, said: “The most significant thing at our academy is an upward surge in attendance level. Out of about 120 trainees that we have, we used to work with 60-70 on weekends before the World Cup. Numbers have now jumped to over 90. The kids want to be like Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli,” Bose said.
So will the euphoria die down by the end of the month (read the World Cup)?
“I don’t think so,” Banerjee said. “Most of these trainees are serious about their cricket. Academy is a stepping stone that provides the basic foundation. I tell the boys to try and inculcate the winning mentality from their heroes. India’s winning streak at the World Cup is helping the game spread its wings even further,” he observed.
The head coach has tons of advice for the budding cricketers who may want to put things in perspective. “Dhoni is a natural leader, so don’t try to copy his methods. Just watch and learn how he keeps calm under pressure. As for Kohli, the best thing about his cricket is his ruthlessness. Try to be ruthless like him on the field.”