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Bangar to Hick, job of batting coach is lonely and thankless

Sanjay Bangar is facing criticism for Indias exit from ICC World Cup 2019

Kolkata, July 24: Specialised coaching has been in vogue for sometime in cricket. The set up of a head coach and his entourage of batting, bowling and fielding coaches is a practice most teams follow now, not just internationally but domestically too in many countries.

Batting coach attracts more eyeballs than the rest of his support staff colleagues because of the emphasis modern cricket places on batting. The newly-crowned world champion England have their former batsman Mark Ramprakash as full-time batting coach while they have Jonathan Trott and Marcus Trescothink as batting consultants.

India have former opener Sanjay Bangar as batting coach while Australia appointed Graeme Hick, a former England international, and Pakistan have ex-Zimbabwe player Grant Flower in that role. Australia have also availed the service of former captain Ricky Ponting as mentor-cum-consultant nad opener Aaron Finch had acknowledged the role of Ponting in rectifying his difficulty against in-coming balls.

Apart from Ponting, Trott and Trescothick, none of the other names had set our imagination on fire during their respective international careers. So, what is the critieria in picking up a batting coach? It is a known fact that batsmen playing at the elite level do not require textbook coaching on technique but they require more of a person who can analyse their batting and discuss various points and angles of their game. It's a role akin to a companion who can show the mirror on you and tell the areas that need correction, however minimal they might be.

Sometimes, it could be the grip or a slight change in the stance, and these little things actually matter a lot in international cricket. At times, batsmen elite tend to overlook these very basic part of their game and there comes these observants. And be it Bangar or Hick or Flower, they are good in this point.

Bangar, who has played 12 Tests and 15 ODIs for India, has come in for some stick recently for India's failure to identify a long-term No 4 in ODIs. But it is unfair to target him because it is not his role to identify a player for a particular spot. Questions can also be asked about the inconsistency that KL Rahul showed during this period.

Similarly, Hick and Flower oversaw a period when Australian and Pakistani batsmen went through ups and downs quite often in the last year or so. Flower has been with Pakistan since 2017 and the Pakistani authorities feel that the Zimbabwean has contributed enough to harness young talents like Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq and Harris Sohail.

Hick has still less results to show, though under his watch the Aussies batsmen did well to win an ODI series each in India and Abu Dhabi. The roles and results vary for batting coaches depending on the team and invariably they will be scrutinised when the batsmen fail to produce the desired results.

But they are hardly remembered or given credit to when batsmen make runs. Rohit Sharma found maturity from his inner self during the ICC World Cup 2019 while Ponting got credit for Finch's World Cup revival. Neither Bangar nor Hick were in picture. Some jobs are thankless and lonely.

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Story first published: Wednesday, July 24, 2019, 13:09 [IST]
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