India’s fielding coach R Sridhar explained how the side remarkably improved its catching unit as they trained with ‘blindfold technique’ to increase reaction time, leather balls of various weights to gauge trajectory in breezy conditions and a simulation machine for slip-catching.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, 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, we did that extensively in England throughout the Test series. It was specifically for red-ball cricket.”
Explaining on Wednesday how a simulation machine called ‘Teammate’ helped India in Australia for slip-catching, Sridhar said, “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 took some brilliant catches.”
Sridhar also explained how the team is countering the breeze while handling skiers. He 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.”
The suppport staff of the Indian cricket team also ensures that the IPL teams adhere to the ‘follow-up programme’ for fielding. “We do give them follow-up programme for fielding just like trainer (Shankar) Basu does for fitness and physio Patrick (Farhart) does for rehab. We keep the communication going with players and also try and keep in touch with fielding coaches of the respective IPL teams so that we can get information about how they are going about.”