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A performance grander than the Asiad gold or CWG silver: Terry Walsh

Chief coach Terry Walsh feels the Indian hockey team is playing at a higher level than they did.

Written by Mihir Vasavda | Mumbai |
Updated: November 12, 2014 11:28:08 am
Chief coach Terry Walsh feels the Indian hockey team is playing at a higher level than they did (Source: Express File) Chief coach Terry Walsh feels the Indian hockey team is playing at a higher level than they did (Source: Express File)

Having master-minded India’s emphatic series win over Australia in a four-match test series, chief coach Terry Walsh tells The Indian Express that the team is playing at a higher level than they did while bagging medals at the multi-discipline events earlier this year, stressing that the growing trust between players and support staff was the reason for recent positive results. Excerpts from the interview:

Is it too risky to read too much into this performance against a half-strength Australia?

You get an idea about the level of performance. I completely concur that Australia, as with the Indian side, weren’t playing the same team all the time. We were moving our players as well. Australia had four-five guys who were really high level players. There isn’t any doubt that this is a series where people are trying players, styles of play and different concepts they want to use. Every time we play, it is under the magnifying glass of what the outcomes are. But the result is not particularly crucial in this series. So that’s the part I find really interesting.

What is the biggest positive from the four matches then?

The part of the most significance is that this Indian team feels comfortable playing against Australia. I think there is more confidence that their actual skill-set can be played against the Australians. The Aussies play a much more powerful, energetic and physical type of game. India now have brought some of those elements to their game but we are not as physical as they are. But we are able to play with an energy level which matches the Australians and that’s a huge change for us.

We’ve been able to do that in the World Cup and in the CWG. In this series, we were blown off the park on the score-sheet in the first game (4-0). But we were able to gather some of the pieces. The guys were legitimately able to address some of the key issues and were able to provide a performance that was encouraging to the point that we won each match since.

Compared to the other tournaments this year, where does this performance stand?

I must say that with respect to the level of performance, we are at a higher place than where we were at the Asian or Commonwealth Games. I have no doubt about that. There has been an improvement in the behaviour of the team with reference to them actually applying themselves as a total unit — whether it is the defensive, build-up or attacking mode. And I think that’s a really important element of the development.

Any specific reason for why things are falling in place now?

It has got to do with trust. That’s a very, very important component of this whole piece. Players have got to trust the people who are supporting them. If something’s asked of them, they’ve got to try and do it. In a couple of these situations, they trusted what we said and implemented it. It wasn’t complex or difficult but they were able to do it smartly. They trust the information that was provided to them and trusted each other in executing it.

Could you describe this trust with an example?

For instance, in the fourth test, they were able to force a momentum shift when Australia were dominating and then all of a sudden, the team went from being on the backfoot to being a little more composed and all of a sudden they were controlling the game. To do that against Australia is a powerful statement for the playing group because none of these sides have been a part of a team that has outplayed Australia before or be on even par with them.

What is the most crucial aspect going into next month’s Champions Trophy?

Consistency will be the key, I think. You talk about any really good international sporting team and that’s their hallmark. In the hockey world, the teams that possess that ability are Australia, Germany and Holland. They are the ones who have done that with consistency and over a period of time. A lot of things go into the mix and we need to achieve that.

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