The wonderful exception | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

The wonderful exception

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Inzamam-ul-HaqI should be very angry at Inzamam-ul-Haq.

For nearly 500 international games over 15 years Inzy has been single-handedly proving that you don't need to train hard to score lots of runs. He is the antithesis of the spirit of this blog.

Actually he's the most wonderful exception to the rule to the rule since IT Botham last missed a net session for extra quality time with his bed.

Most of us need to be fit to get the best from ourselves. Inzy didn't. He just rocked up, had a few gentle throw downs and scored another of his 35 International centuries with natural strength, balance, power and hand-eye coordination.

And that's the rub. His natural talent.

Most of us don't have that talent. Most of us need to work on our physical abilities. Most of us wouldn't want to follow the example of Inzamam if we are serious about playing better cricket.

Ask Wayne Larkins, a man of similar effort levels, far more talented than you but not quite as much talent as Inzy. He managed only 400 or so less international appearances.

A cruel man would sneer saying how much better the former Pakistan captain and World Cup winner would have been if he had trained properly. That's unfair. His batting and training matched his personality. He was a man above mere mortals.

King Cricket puts it so much better than I could here.

That's why I'm not angry with Inzamam-ul-Haq. You can't be angry with a man who was so great to watch bat but you certainly can't use his example as a reason not to train either. Unless you are just as gloriously talented an exception that is.

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Maybe this proves that cricket is first a game of skill and fitness comes second. I cannot help thinking that Inzy is not the only 'exception' ? Maybe his coaches did not interfere with his skill development by using a lot of the so called modern coaching methods?

It's certainly a point of discussion newbie. At what point does coaching become interfering?

[...] do you think about this comment? England’s Liam Plunkett is often criticised for having a ‘robotic’ bowling [...]

David, It depends on the coach's understanding. Trouble is we are a society greatly prejudiced by appearances and make judgements rather too quickly. Inzzy was always a target of commentators for his running between wickets, but those who watched closely could see that it was more a judgment issue at times and not a fitness issue for Inzzy. A player like Inzzy ( overweight or not) with his skill sets is far more valuable as a player than a very athletic player whose skills are not as good. There is an over emphasis on fitness and athleticism by many modern coaches and what they are actually doing is interfering with skill development. There are a lot of gimmicks which are more marketing tools than coaching tools.

Coaching of skills must be a careful process. While intentions of most coaches are good, they may not necessarily be correct. The focus on 'perfecting' technique is a problem, because every one is different and they must be largely left alone to develop while playing the game. Few tips can be helpful but the job of a coach is really to help the player improve his efficiency. There is no one size fits all in skill development. And egos of coaches especially the accomplished former players is a major problem. They may have been great players but do not have all the answers for every individual they attempt to coach.

I agree that skill is paramount and that it is a coaches job to facilitate individuals rather than create clones.

I also agree some training methods can end up doing the opposite of their intent.

However, good coaches can integrate athletic development with skill development. That is the art of great coaching.

David so are you saying that you could have made Inzzy a better player by getting him to lose weight?

Me? No. Inzy was a great cricketer, I wouldn't change a thing.

A great coach who had the chance to work with him from an early age? Possibly. We can never know if he reached his genetic potential.

Athletic development is about far more than just losing weight. It's about creating adaptable athletes who are skillful, fast, strong, mobile and as injury free as possible.

Plus my original point was, lest we forget, that 99.9% of players will never be as talented as him.

Therefore us mere mortals need to work on every aspect of their game much harder than the great man did.

David, You are beginning to sound like Vern Gambetta who is a better marketer than a coach. Who says that 99.99 percent of players cannot be as talented as Inzzy? How do we make such assumptions? If every coach or parent thinks like this, we are certainly going to make such unfounded assumptions come true.

Because he scored 8830 Test runs and 11739 ODI runs.

How many people who have ever played cricket will reach that level? Much less than 1%.

That is not to say we shouldn't try. We should try our hardest.

The fact is that the overwhemling majority will not even play professionally, let alone become one of the finest players ever. Which is my point. We cannot use Inzy as an example to follow unless we are as talented as him.

That is not unfounded.

Whether Gambetta is a good marketer or not, you must agree all players can benefit from being skillful, fast, strong, mobile and injury free?

David, The question you should ask is why only 1 percent reach that level. And what happens to the rest? Coaches should count their failures and successes to get better at nurturing talent. One thing I know for sure is that when players stop having fun mostly as a result of coaching nonsense and judgments made on appearances, they lose their way. This is all the more true in modern coaching as its a business and coaches resort to gimmicks. All players will need very good skills to get to the next level. And who are you as a coach to measure talent? This is the problem - selectors, coaches all try to make judgments based on a arbitrary thing called talent. If an individual remains passionate & loves the game he will have a great chance of succeeding with some wise guidance. As for injuries, it depends whether they are game related or exercise related. Many injuries in modern cricket are because of foolish program designs and unnecessary
exercises. The total work load of the players must be looked at better.
Vern is a guy who is good at using impressive sounding language and plagiarizing stuff from charlie francis. There are real coaches out there. If you are serious about making a change follow coaches who produce results. But coaches need to change their attitude that most kids will not make it. Thats just being judgmental and foolish. Think about it.

I think we will have to agree to disagree there newbie. I don't think you can convince me and I'm sure I can't convince you! I do hope we have learned something though. That's my aim.

After all we are all aiming to get to the same place: better coaching, better cricketers.

Can you recommend some real coaches to me? Especially if they have done any writing so I can find out more about them.

Thats the problem David, as a coach you are unwilling to accept that there could more talent like Innzy out there. Despite being tubby and not 'athletic' he was always cricket fit and hugely successful. The coaches of the past certainly did not 'interfere' with his development because he was tubby. These days most of us are too judgmental and close minded with commerce being the primary interest. Some real great coaches are people like Charlie Francis, Carl Valle, Mark Rippetoe, Al Vermeil etc. I cannot think of anyone well known in cricket although Greg Chappell is a good batting consultant, but rigid in this thinking. I am sure there are many unheard of wise coaches at the junior levels whose primary aim is to help his wards progress.

I'll look those guys up. I have come across their work before but not in detail.

It's my aim to give every player the chance to become as good as Inzy.