Professionalism a cornerstone of international sport
Kindly permit me space in your well-read newspaper to answer a Bermuda Cricket Board representative who asked me a thought-provoking question recently.
During a telephone call, he stated that he was struggling to understand what professionalism is as it pertains to the international level.
First, Sir, this BCB club representative should be aware that the groundwork for success starts at the top. Does the hierarchy recognise and understand the importance of giving their team, from whatever country, the optimal chance to succeed?
How is this done? Through superlative preparation that includes ample arrival time before competition and adequate pre-tournament match practice that is of a decent calibre.
Your readers will be aware that just last week West Indies arrived in Pakistan the night before the beginning of a specially arranged Twenty20 series only to be rolled over in 13.4 overs for a paltry score of 60.
What they may not know is that Bermuda’s rivals for a place in World Cricket League Division Three have been very serious in their build-up to the Division Four tournament, which commences this month in Malaysia.
Denmark, reportedly, sent six of their leading players to Pakistan to train.
Another opponent, Jersey, have been engaged in matches against the second XIs of English County Championship teams Kent and Hampshire, and will travel to Singapore for pre-tournament match practice.
Uganda played nine matches during February — five in Qatar and four in India. Add to this the five additional international matches they will be playing in Uganda, and one immediately recognises their visionary planning.
Finally, Vanuatu, a relatively unknown entity, sent seven of their players to Australia during recent months to gain experience playing at a higher level. They will be arriving in Malaysia on April 14 for a two week training camp before the tournament.
While this is but one variable that involves professionalism, another highly important component involves the coaching itself.
The following aspects of a “professional” coaching situation come readily to mind without having to research any literature:
• From Day 1, rules and expectations are made clear to the players
• Equipment required for the sessions is already in place
• Time management is adhered to
• Very high intensity exists, with fitness being a natural consequence of the rigour
• There is variety, fun and relevance of drills
• Likewise, there are purposeful aims, with specific objectives being worked on
• Also, maximum participation ensues
• Swift transitions transpire
• Differentiations of tasks occur
• Challenging expectations exist
• Teachable moments are seized upon, with reflection time — honing in on the mental aspects of the sport
• In today’s world, use of technology exists to enable practitioners to view technical points
• The coach is inspirational and a good motivator
• They possess sound knowledge of the sport
• The coach has excellent man-management skills
• Finally, blackboard/theory sessions are incorporated into the programme to enhance tactical awareness
Truth be told, Mr Editor, we have just touched the surface here because so much more is entailed in “professionalism”, for example, diet, training schedule, psychology and support staff.
In respect to this latter point, I feel compelled to inform the individual that the under-19 world champions, India, had Rahul Dravid as their head coach/batting coach, and for his support he had a bowling coach, a fielding coach, a physiotherapist, a trainer, a video analyst and a masseur.
In conclusion, Bermuda’s senior cricket team will do well to advance to the next division, bearing in mind the aforementioned countries’ “professional” preparations.
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