A ‘blindfold technique’ to increase reaction time, leather balls of various weights to gauge trajectory in breezy conditions and a simulation machine for slip-catching have made the Indian team a remarkably improved catching unit, fielding coach R Sridhar revealed in a recent interview.
While ‘blindfold technique’ is specifically used for red-ball cricket in England, a simulation machine is ‘Teammate’ is used for slip-catching in Australia.
When asked about the ‘blindfold technique’, Sridhar said, “We have a feeder behind a curtain and the catcher doesn’t know from where the ball is coming from.
“We would slide it from under the curtain. It did improve their reaction time (reflex), we did that extensively in England throughout the Test series. It is specifically for red-ball cricket.”
Now, balls of varying weights are being used during the ODI series against New Zealand in order to help the players prepare for skiers with steady breeze threatening to change the trajectory.
“We brought a different type of machine called ‘Teammate’ for slip-catching simulations. We did a lot of blindfold work or reaction work. By the time, we reached Australia, it was a well-oiled machine and if you see, Virat Kohli took some brilliant catches,” the fielding coach added.
When asked about how the team is countering the breeze while handling skiers, Sridhar said, “The biggest challenge you face in New Zealand as a fielder is the breeze. Most of the batting and bowling plans are based around that breeze.
If we see the ball wobble a lot in air, we try and simulate that in practice, use balls of different weights, so that the ball swerves and swings more in the air.”
Sridhar also praised Hardik Pandya’s stunning catch to dismiss the Blackcaps skipper Kane Williamson at the Bay Oval on Monday.
“The desperation he brought was magnificent to see. He is always a good fielder and dying to get into the thick of things and be a part of this and get back to what he loves doing, that is to play cricket and as best as he can.”
“He (Pandya) made a very difficult catch look easy. It was a piece of magic and he is known for that and he is one of our best fielders. Hardik brings a lot to the team. Not only the balance but other factors as well,” he concluded.