ICC Europe Academy Diary
ICC Europe Men's Academy - Pune 2012
Much of yesterday was spent asleep in the confines of public transport, and so I will avoid dwelling on it. We did however get the chance to have a look at the practice facilities of the Poona Sports Club, which unsurprising were very impressive. A rather tired fielding session followed, giving us the opportunity to adapt to working in the stifling heat.
Today meant the start of our training, and we cleared a few cobwebs in the nets in the morning. The Club have plenty of turf nets: a luxury that is often hard to come by where the players are from. There are none more passionate about cricket than the Indians, and there was an abundance of locals eager to have a bowl against our batters. Of course, having them at our disposal was fantastic, although the spinners of the bunch caused a bit of havoc on the turning practice wickets.
A short bus ride got us back to the hotel for lunch, where Italian Luis "Luigi" Di Giglio didn't hesitate to complain about the spicy food. Luckily, the presence of some pasta rectified the situation slightly. The afternoon was dedicated to improving our batting against spin, which, considering the dry state of the wickets, proved to be a bit of a challenge. One local in particular made a mockery of most of us. Yet the batting expertise of coach Chris Taylor, coupled with the mental guidance of Gordon Lord, helped us through it.
The short drive to the Poona Sports Club is an incredible experience. It is a whole new culture, complete with street fruit-sellers and a complete neglect of road rules. We had a long net session in the morning, in which the focus was on playing the short ball. Of course, nobody enjoyed it more that Phil Hudson and Chris Taylor, who revelled in the opportunity to pepper the batsmen with that ball-throwing-device-designed-for-dogs. Fitness coach Mark Nash had the chance to enjoy it too, but couldn't quite get the hang of it, which resulted in yorkers instead of short balls. Our batting against spin bowling seemed to have improved since yesterday as well. The batsmen looked more in control against the turning ball, adapting a game plan that suited their strengths. Thankfully, it meant a quieter day for the Indian 'trouble-maker' who turned it square. Gordon Lord has been 'profiling' each member of the squad using a combination of secret techniques, helping us to become familiar with the way in which our brains and bodies synchronise. It's difficult to explain, but effectively our personality traits can be used to help the way in which our bodies move and we play cricket.
Then the news broke that the afternoon was to be spent doing conditioning, and so we couldn't attack the lunchtime buffet in our usual fashion. Even for late afternoon, the heat was still stifling and the session proved to fairly gruelling for most. The Global Cricket School have given us access to a nearby pool, so we were able to warm down in it after the session. A relaxed dinner back at the hotel was the perfect end to the day for everyone - except Di Giglio, who still seems to be struggling with the absence of his beloved pasta and pizza.