Indian women's fielding has come of age, feels outgoing coach Biju George



Author 2019-10-21 01:46:00


KOCHI: It's refreshing to see the Indian women's team take to the field these days. The team oozes in confidence and there is a spring in every step they take. Fielding is one of the areas that has seen a remarkable transformation in the last couple of years.

The girls are willing to throw themselves onto the ground. Slide-stops and diving catches have also become a common occurrence.

One man who has quietly worked behind the scenes in giving this makeover to the team's fielding is their outgoing fielding coach Biju George. One of the first things he did on assuming charge shortly before the ICC Women's World Cup in England in 2017, was to inculcate in them a fondness towards fielding.

"I went from the Kolkata Knight Riders (support staff) to join the Indian women's team," said Biju. "I tried to implement the fielding techniques I had learnt at KKR with the girls. There were a lot of apprehensions among the girls at first and a lot of eyebrows were raised. I realized the Indian team effected very few run-outs when I assumed charge. So, I focused on that. In the first match against England in the Women's World Cup, we effected four run-outs and went on to stun the hosts. That's where it changed I think and the girls realized that good fielding can win you matches," Biju said.

The 54-year-old focused on identifying fielders for each position and gave them drills accordingly. "Though the basic fielding technique is the same, each position requires its own skill-set. So my next task was to identify fielders for each position. Poonam Yadav is now being assigned the task of patrolling short fine-leg or short third-man. Similarly, Jemmimah, who is an excellent fielder, is used in the slips, cover and in the deep and is given specific drills to improve at each position. So now everyone from Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Goswami to Deepti Sharma and Shikha Pandey know before the game where they will be fielding and what is expected of them. This has gone a long way in Indian women's team excelling now as a fielding unit," added Biju.

He reckons the physical attributes of Indian girls are inferior when compared to that of Australia and England but now they are more than making up for it with their hard work both on and off the field. "Our reach is low. So sometimes our girls have to make double the effort to take a diving catch or make a sliding stop. But technically, our fielding is far superior," said the man who is credited with mentoring Sanju Samson right from his childhood.

Probed on the reasons why he didn't seek a contract extension, Biju said: "I enjoyed working with the girls. But now it is time to move on. I have my own coaching centre in Thiruvananthapuram. Also, I would like to work with Indian men's junior teams and 'A' teams if given an opportunity."

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