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March 17, 1999


The Rediff Interview/ Andrew Kokinos

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'There are a few guys who need to work on their fitness'

Andrew Kokinos was brought in as the Indian physiotherapist at Bob Simpson's suggestion. Kokinos, 22, who with a football team in Australia, looked a little raw for the job. But his entry provided that boost to the Indian players.

A year later, the team has not shown much improvement in its overall fitness. In fact, there is even been an overall deterioration in the fitness of the team. Here, in a freewheeling interview with Faisal Shariff, Kokinos explains the problems that plague the Indian squad and how he hopes to correct them.

How would you describe the attitude of the Indian cricketers to fitness?

It's pretty good, actually. The guys have learnt the need to concentrate on fitness. The guys are pretty seriously about their training schedules and I think that eventually this will begin to pay off.

How diet-conscious are the players?

They are very diet-conscious. They keep discussing health foods and now they also advise me about what to eat and what to abstain from.

Tell me, how does the team go about their daily training schedule?

Coach Anshuman Gaekwad, Dr (Ravinder) Chadda and I get together in the morning after the team meeting and decide what we need to stress upon and then set the ball rolling.

What kind of tests have you devised to improve the players' fitness?

There are quite a few tests we have devised. You know, the endurance test, the recovery test, the turn-speed test, the beep test and many more...

What's the beep test?

There are two marked points indicated and each end has a beeper. The player has to run to the other end before the beeper there goes off and then back again. The frequency of the beeps is increased, and that makes it more difficult.

It leaves the bloke with very little time to make it and, in the process, he improves on his speed. If you miss more than two beeps you are made to sit out and you start all over again. The beep test is pretty popular with the guys. And, yes, it has helped them improve their speed.

You know in Australia there is a test whereby the guys run in a minute and see who takes the most runs? Michael Bevan is believed to have clocked 14 runs in a minute on an average. Have you ever tried that with the Indians?

No, I have not tried that as yet. But I have devised a glycogen recovery test. In this test you take six runs and then rest for 30 seconds. Then again you take six runs and then rest for 30 seconds. It's a very good method to test and improve stamina.

Do you keep in touch with the players off-season and follow up on their training schedule?

What off-season are you talking about? There is no off-season for these cricketers. Ever since I have joined the team, we've not had an off-season.

Maybe during the odd week or fortnight when the team is not playing?

I do give each guy a specific fitness training program and hope they follow it. You know, nothing too strenuous, yet enough to tone the body's muscles and keep it going.

Fielding is one of Indian cricket's biggest weaknesses. What is the problem?

Speed is one of the main drawbacks of the Indian team. We are working on it and, you know, this is not something that can be done in a jiffy.

But you and Bob Simpson have been with the team for well over a year but things still haven't looked up.

You know, there has to be a culture that needs to be developed. Back home when I was about eight or nine years old we used to practice diving and other activities. We used to go to the beaches and practice catching and there used to be a catch of the day kind of game. The beaches in India are not clean enough to create that kind of fielding culture.

Within a radius of 2, 3 kilometers, we had about 9 ovals around the house...

You know, it's a matter of having a culture of doing something. And going by what I have seen of the players, there's a need to develop that culture in them. That is something that has to be developed early in life. You know, it gets difficult when you try it at a later stage.

Look at Dennis Lillee, for example. He took five years to get a feel of things in India and now he has developed the MRF Pace Foundation as a leading institution for pace bowling.

Players from all countries other than India and Pakistan have mastered the art of diving and stopping the ball. Why are our players so hesitant to try the technique?

'With good rest I am sure Sachin will be okay'

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