|Ashok Dinda, Wriddhiman Saha and coach Ashok Malhotra, on Saturday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: While the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) is mulling appointing mental conditioning coaches at various age-group levels to toughen up the players, coach Ashok Malhotra, it seems, has a slightly different view on the matter.
According to Malhotra, for tips on mental toughness, going to successful former players is a much better option than taking help of professional motivators because practical experience counts.
Speaking after Saturday’s practice session at the CAB’s indoor facility, Malhotra, a former India player, said: “Look, if there’s a need to toughen up the boys mentally, I believe it’s better to go to Sourav Ganguly and Arun Lal than anywhere else. I understand that there are professional motivators… But tell me, if you haven’t played the game, if you haven’t faced the crisis yourself, how will you know how to come out of the situation.”
Truth is, the players might need a few confidence-boosting lectures down the road because even before the season proper has started, Bengal wear a depleted look. The likes of Manoj Tiwary and Laxmi Ratan Shukla are yet to recover fully from injuries. Ashok Dinda, too, has a niggle.
But the coach is trying his best to take fill in the gaps. For example, Malhotra has already asked Wriddhiman Saha to bat at No.4, the position where Manoj used to bat. “I have asked Wriddhi to bat at No.4… Look, last year the problem was that players didn’t play according to their reputations. We will have to do that this time But then, it’s only natural that you may have a bad season. That doesn’t make you a bad player,” he explained.
Wriddhi, however, is unlikely to play in the upcoming SK Acharya Memorial Trophy as he will be doing duty for the Chennai Super Kings in the Champions League T20.
Wriddhi is aware of what Malhotra expects from him, but he reminded: “I know I have a lot of responsibilities… But the others, too, will have to play their part. Only then can the team be successful.”
Malhotra echoed the same point, but in a more diplomatic way. “You have to remember that there’s a BCCI directive to use green tops during domestic games… It is not easy to score. Plus, the players have been used to playing more one-dayers than the longer format. So they have to learn and play bigger innings,” Malhotra said.