Blindfold walking boosted U-19 team's confidence

Indian u-19 team prepared for the World Cup with unique exercises

The victorious Indian U-19 team.
BLINDFOLDED walks in the jungle, climbing cliffs, and going on a safari. Members of the India under-19 team underwent these and some other exercises as part of a boot camp to prepare for the World Cup that they won.

Also, two different sets of three words — 'Nothing Else Matters’, the mission statement of the team, and "self-belief, communication, and controlled aggression”, the qualities that kept the players remain focussed throughout the tournament.

Last month’s three-day boot camp, organised in the Nagarhole jungles where they walked blindfolded for 20 minutes, covering a pre-set distance, was crucial in many aspects. It inspired the players to give their best and clinch the title by beating hosts Australia last Sunday.

Disclosing this, team’s fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar modestly pointed out that when he suggested the words 'Nothing Else Matters’, all agreed that those were the most appropriate words that would motivate the team to win the World Cup.

Sridhar, a former Hyderabad left-arm spinner and also the fielding coach at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), Bangalore, said that the team bonding developed during the three-day camp from July 16-18. That was just before a two-week high performance camp at the NCA here.

What is more interesting are the types of exercises that the players did in the jungle.

"The boot camp was team coach Bharat Arun’s idea as part of the 18-month World Cup programme called 'Road to the World Cup 2012’. We are thankful to the BCCI and the NCA that they not only agreed to it, but also to all the other series that were played as per the plan,” Sridhar told MAIL TODAY in an interview here.

ON THE first day of the camp, all the players were asked to come up with three most important words that describe the qualities which were required to win the World Cup. The 45 words thus collected were pruned down to nine by three groups of five players formed out of the 15-member team.

Eventually, everyone agreed that "self-belief, communication, and controlled aggression” were the three most important qualities required to win the title. Printouts of these words were pasted on the room walls of the 15 players and the five-member support staff – so that no one forgets about the mission they were on.

"And the boys lived by these qualities during the entire tournament,” says Sridhar proudly.

On the second day of the camp, the players were asked to do 'trust walks’ during which 15 players were divided into three equal groups and asked to do a 20-minute walk blindfolded in the jungle.

"Each group had a leader, who was barred from speaking, while the four other players were blindfolded.

The leader would give instructions to 'show’ them the way but only by making noise from his hands etc, and without speaking or touching his teammembers,” revealed Sridhar. "But the four blind-folded players could touch each other and walked in a train-like formation. All of them covered the designated distance in 20 minutes using their own innovative ways to communicate.” Sridhar, 42, said this exercise was done to develop trust and communication among the players.

"They had to trust their leader to 'show’ them the way,” he emphasised.

Another exercise was cliff climbing.

"The players also did rappelling.

They were made to climb a 50-foot vertical cliff. After some initial hesitation, it was a cakewalk for them. This exercise was done to remove fear factor from their minds,” said Sridhar.

And on the third day, all of them went on a safari and the youngsters got excited on seeing a tiger.

"We went on safari and were lucky to see a tiger. The boys got excited and couldn’t keep quiet, despite being told to remain quiet,” said the Mysore-born Sridhar, whose hobby is wildlife photography.

Sridhar pointed out said that the players fielded well throughout the World Cup and effected one run out per match on an average.

He especially picked Akshdeep Nath for his "agility and anticipation”, Baba Aparajith for "a great pair of hands” and wicket-keeper Smit Patel for 14 dismissals, the second-highest in the tournament.


Y! Special: India's U-19 Triumph


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