| Bennet King at the Eden on Friday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Australia owe their emergence as the numero uno side in world cricket to their domestic structure, specifically the academy, shifted from Adelaide to Brisbane last month. Rodney Marsh has been instrumental in providing the academy with a hi-tech character and Bennet King has ensured that the legacy stays on.
The academy’s head coach believes that the Aussies’ domination is here to stay. “I see us as a strong cricketing nation ten years from now. With the infrastructure we have in place and our endeavour to improve, we’ll remain strong, doesn’t necessarily mean No.1,” King, also the under-19 coach for the World Cup in Dhaka, told The Telegraph.
King has been in demand and even rejected an offer from the West Indies board to take charge . “I went for the interview and set five conditions before the panel. Most of them weren’t met.”
He had, though, taken over the current assignment before the WICB announcement. The academy will soon be converted into a Centre for Excellence with added features like sports medicine, umpiring and curating.
“What we are trying is to get the best athlete out of the boys but generally it’s the physical, technical and mental aspects we look into,” he informed. “The main thing is improving physical ability and try and put in the drills to sharpen the skills. I guess once the fitness increases, it leads to getting tougher mentally.”
King says that “all players are promising” in the under-19 side, but there are no guarantees as to how many will make it big. “If they have the commitment they can prosper. There is a number of things that takes you to the next level. But it also depends on the injuries and how they develop. Some just stop developing…”
King said that the academy, which is residential, concentrates on “exploring new areas and techniques”. “The support staff is varied. There are physios, doctors, masseurs, strength conditioners. We try and use them as we can and don’t neglect any area.
“We’re prepared to try anything, including some unusual things like use of coloured balls at practice, to see if they work. If they do, we pass it on to the States,” he said.
King informed that other sports like rugby, softball, Australian rules football and netball have been borrowing techniques and ideas from cricket.
King also wants the players to keep pace with the times. “I encourage current players or the players who have recently retired to visit the academy since the game is moving forward. The style of the players who have played in the 70s and 80s are still valid but the game has actually changed enormously. As a result, I try and keep it current so that the players can recognise and understand it.”
The academy has three other coaches — David Moore, a PhD in education, John Harmer, a biomechanist and fast bowler Damien Fleming. “I try and employ people who can offer me one or more aspects of the game other than coaching,” King says.
What has made them the No. 1 side' “One of the things has been how we have changed our gameplan and tried to implement them. You’ve to try to push the limits and if you don’t improve, you just cannot move forward. The key is pushing those limits and if you’re positive about your decision, sticking to it and improving on it.”
Does he support sledging' “What we impart is the spirit of cricket . We see to it that the spirit is maintained in every minute of the game. The players are well educated in these areas. Certainly we want them to be competitive and aggressive. That needs to stay but certainly how you play to your strengths is what take people forward. But the game has to have lot of good things about it that will make people take to the game.”