The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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All geared up to go the Ganguly way

Top-of-the-line bowling machine, video wall for course correction, scientific diet, structured training programme, and even top visiting coaches from the Australian academy to iron out technical flaws. The aspiring Souravs in the city are all set for the right start.

Cuisine and cricket came together on Tuesday, in what promises to be a fruitful partnership, to give Calcutta’s budding cricketers a real shot in the arm. After titillating the taste buds of the town, restaurateur Anjan Chatterjee of Mainland China fame has now come forward to support cricket by adopting Sambaran Banerjee’s academy.

“We will concentrate on all aspects of the development of a junior cricketer, including preparing him mentally for the big stage, which is so vital for on-field success,” Chatterjee said at the launch of the Mainland-Sambaran Cricket Academy. The director of Speciality Restaurants Pvt Ltd also handed over a cheque for Rs 1.11 lakh to Banerjee, the Bengal Ranji Trophy coach, for his grassroots programme at Vivekananda Park on Southern Avenue.

Apart from importing latest coaching aids, Chatterjee is also keen to involve coaches from the Australian academy. “They can come in a visiting capacity for short periods to work with Sambaran and the other local coaches. We want to give the kids all the start-up help they would require to blossom,” he said.

For the trainees of the academy present at the launch, a big boost arrived in the form of a message from the Indian skipper himself. Sourav wrote from Cape Town: “I convey my heartiest good wishes to them (Mainland China and Sambaran Banerjee) on this project. I would request if they could provide the basic facilities for kids to grow up and become better a gymnasium with current updates and a fitness guy to monitor the improvement of the boys.”

The academy bosses promised they would approach the task in a “most scientific manner”. So, a technical board is being put in place, which will include among others a nutrition expert, a sports medicine expert, sports scribes, and other professional personnel to support the kids’ progress.

“We will ensure that this becomes one of the most professionally-run academies in the country,” said Banerjee, who is confident he can continue his assignment with the seniors if the CAB provides him with an assistant coach.

Sourav’s message also suggested dividing the trainees into age groups and giving them work schedules for the next six months with their coaches monitoring them constantly. “You have not just turned up for a Saturday-Sunday pastime,” he wrote. P.K. Banerjee warned the youngsters to guard against performance-enhancing drugs. “You only improve your performance through hard work,” he told the boys.

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