| More and Chappell share a light moment during the Indian team’s practice in Faridabad on Thursday. (AFP)
Mumbai, March 30: That Greg Chappell and Kiran More get along famously is for everyone to see ' whether they’re sharing a joke at the nets, peering together at the pitch or looking at the future of Indian cricket.
So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that when The Chappell Way ' a 14-day cricket training camp in Australia ' rolled, the first batch of boys to go was from a cricket academy the chief selector runs in Vadodara.
The patented package, offered by The Australian International Sports Academy (AISA), a private company in which Chappell has a stake, comes at a price of 2,500 Australian dollars, with another 400 added on as air fare ' the two put together equivalent to around Rs 93,000.
“Right now, our focus is largely India. The growing spending power of the middle class there is a big draw. And having Chappell there certainly acts as a passport for us,” AISA director Tony Dell said over phone from Australia.
“So far, we have had two groups of 14 youngsters (the target group is boys of 12 to 20 years of age) from The Kiran More International Sports Academy. Kiran has been here himself. He shares a special relationship with Greg and it’s great,” Dell added.
Another man Chappell shares a close rapport with, bio-mechanist Ian Frazer who is now part of the coach’s entourage in the Indian team, is also in on the project.
“Frazer has been touring different parts of the world trying to promote The Chappell Way programme. But his target audience has mostly been people of Indian origin,” said a source in the Indian cricket board.
Chappell and Frazer did not respond to messages and calls.
Dell said: “Frazer and Chappell are partners in The Chappell Way programme.”
AISA has tied up with a virtual online marketing and PR company based in Mumbai to spread the word about the programme, conducted all year round at a resort near Brisbane.
“Our approach is to use the virus or buzz marketing technique to take the programme to young cricketers in Mumbai and across the country,” said Sunil Shibad, director, The Flea, which is also marketing other AISA programmes.
It seems to be working.
“My friends who go to Shivaji Park for cricket coaching told me about it. Sounds great. They are not asking for any previous cricketing record and there is no selection process involved. They say it is one’s interest in the game and willingness to learn that counts,” said Shamit Shah, a student of an elite Mumbai school.
The camp, to which the first batch of students went in November, involves running, swimming, games and cricket training sessions peppered with sightseeing and lectures. With Chappell in India, most of the actual training is left to John Buchanan, the coach of the Australian team, and Ian Healy, the former Australian wicketkeeper.
For those that don’t want to go all the way to Australia, The Chappell Way might soon come to India. “We are hoping to start Greg Chappell Clinics in various schools and sports academies across India from June. There is talk also of an AISA team touring India, playing and conducting Chappell Way Clinics,” said Dell.
The first such “clinic” will be in Bangalore’s Jain Academy of Sporting Excellence, run by R. Chenraj Jain. The fee hasn’t been fixed yet.
Also in the pipeline is a reality TV show, from which the winner will get an all-expenses paid trip to Australia for The Chappell Way package, which Shibad describes as “Greg’s personally researched and patented mode of training”.
“Though The Chappell Way is generally brought to young cricketers through CD-ROMs and online interactive sessions, the Indian coach has designed a special in situ programme in Australia specifically for Indians. It shows his commitment towards India,” Shibad said.
The online programme is not available for Indians.
“The programme has been researched for the past five years using footage of all the great batting and bowling performances. A lot of this has been slowed down and analysed to see what makes these players great. This is the basis of the cricket programme brought to India by some of Australia’s best coaches and communicators, people that have helped make Australia a great cricketing nation,” he said.Cricket academies in Mumbai charge between Rs 60,000 and Rs 80,000 for a two-month summer package, compared with two weeks in The Chappell Way.
For many youngsters hoping to sign up for the India coach’s package, there’s also the trip to Australia to look forward to, not counting the brag value among peers.
“My dad has promised to send me for the programme during summer vacations. I am in the process of getting all the details. They have tied up with Qantas and the airline is giving discounted air fares to students going for The Chappell Way programme,” says Ayub Bandookwala, 15.
On the website, Chappell says: “Ever since I was a boy I have been fascinated with the game of cricket and committed to understanding its complexities. This journey has taken me to create The Chappell Way and my dream of assisting people in becoming a better player or coach.”
Being Team India coach is helping to sell the dream.