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Cricket coaching circus
M D Riti in Bangalore | May 02, 2003 17:38 IST
An open gunny sack lay behind the table. As each new boy paid his fee, the man behind the desk tossed it into the sack without even counting the money! By the time the registrations for the summer cricket camp closed, the sack was full with uncounted and unaccounted money!
This is an eyewitness account of what took place on the first day of one of the summer camps being conducted on the grounds of the Bangalore Palace.
Summer camps teaching cricket, run by celebrity cricketers in Bangalore, are now on in full swing all over the city. The best known are run by Brijesh Patel, head of the BCCI's national selection committee , and former India all-rounder Roger Binny.
There is also a four-month camp, conducted by the National Cricket Academy, on the grounds of the Karnataka State Cricket Association. This starts in May and goes all the way up to the end of August. Cricketing legends like E A S Prasanna and Brijesh Patel are also associated with this camp.
Patel's camp costs, say some students who have joined this year, Rs 3,500 per person. Patel himself told Rediff.com that he charges Rs 2,500 per student. "Not everyone is a paying student, though," he clarifies quickly. "We charge them based on their financial abilities, and we waive the fees of highly motivated but poor boys."
Binny's camp costs a little less. It is Rs 2,000 per student. Both these summer camps are held on the grounds of the Bangalore Palace, in the centre of Bangalore, for a duration of six weeks each.
Patel's camp has about 300 boys. "There are a couple of girls too," says Patel, though one does not spot them on the grounds. Binny's has 205, divided into two batches.
Both camps start at about 6.30 am and go on up to 9 am. Binny's has five coaches, apart from he himself. Two of these coaches are his own brothers. True to his own form, Binny's camp focusses on developing all-rounders. The day begins with vigorous physical fitness exercises. This is followed by intensive training in fielding. Then, the boys go to the nets.
"For the first two weeks, we concentrated on teaching them the basics," says Binny. "Then, we went on to more complex playing techniques." He, himself, is completely hands-on, every day, at his camp, as is Patel at his. Patel, also, has several other highly ranked cricket players from Karnataka, like Venkatanarayan, Y B Patel, Mahendra and Surendra, coaching at his camp.
Summer camps in cricket have long been in vogue in Bangalore. Patel has been running such camps right from 1986, while Binny began ten years later, and also took a two-year break when he was away overseas.
There are also several lesser-known cricketers and coaches who run summer cricket camps all over Bangalore, at far lower prices like Rs 1,000 or Rs 1,250 a month. These are not conducted in prime locations around the city.
However, the advantage in going to the better known summer camps is that the boys then have an opportunity to fit into the year-long training at regular cricket academies run by these players. Patel, for example, runs the Brijesh Patel Cricket Academy, which, he says, has 200 boys in training all the year round. Binny says he has 85 boys at the Britannia Roger Binny Academy.
Some camps, like Patel's, takes in boys at a very young age. Right from six years onwards. Others, like Binny's, ask them to wait till they are 9 or 10 years old, although, as Binny puts it, a lot of smaller boys simply come and "hang out" at the summer camp. The average age of young cricketer that all these camps devote the maximum attention to is between 12 and 14 years of age.
"If India had won the World Cup, then these camps would have done even better," says Rajakumar, owner of the Classic Gym chain, whose son goes to a cricket camp at Yelahanka, on the outskirts of Bangalore. "But even now, none of our sons wants to learn any sport other than cricket," says housewife Chandrakala of Sadashivanagar, whose son Yashwant attends Binny's camp.
Binny notices that the boys who come to him now seem to be particularly well informed about the rules of the game, and about its basic requirements, although many of them have acquired bad playing techniques from gully cricket.
Patel says he notices no such change in the calibre of skill level of boys coming to him over the past 15 years. "There is always, of course, more interest in cricket amongst the younger generations after a World Cup," he says.
All this certainly proves that you need not be a star cricketer on the Indian eleven to rake in the money. Any association, past or present players, involved with the game at any level, is enough to ensure you some good cash from it.