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The Vidarbha coach says he learnt a lot from observing Achrekar, Mankad and Vengsarkar.
All through his coaching career spanning two decades, Chandrakant Pandit has put into practice the traditional old-school style and he is happy that the tried and trusted has met with substantial success. On Monday at the Holkar Stadium in Indore, the Vidarbha coach was lifted by the team that outplayed Delhi to win the coveted Ranji Trophy for the first time and it has touched him.
“They are a bunch of obedient boys. If I tell them to jump from the first floor, they will do it. Lifting the captain is common, but not the coach. The players won the trophy, but what it also meant was that they learnt some basics, nuances and other key elements of the game,” said Pandit a day after Vidarbha claimed the Ranji Trophy.
Pandit was one of the first-batch members to pass the Level 3 coaching certificate course, conducted by the BCCI, at the turn of the new millennium. Thereafter, Pandit has gone on to show the way for teams like Mumbai in the Cooch Behar under-19 tournament and the Ranji Trophy, Maharashtra in the Cooch Behar Trophy. He also played a significant part in the development of cricket in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala.
While most coaches would lean heavily on what they had learnt to coach budding talents in the country and go by the book, Pandit implemented things that he observed during his career as a player.
“Coaches must have certificates for the sake of knowledge, but I learnt a lot from observing coach Ramakant Achrekar, Ashok Mankad, Dilip Vengsarkar and listening to Polly Umrigar and Sunil Gavaskar at different times in my career.”
As a school boy at Shardashram Vidyamandir, Pandit watched Achrekar take notes during a match. “He used to write about the players’ skills, how they reacted to match situations and different aspects of the game on the back of a bus ticket. After the day’s play he would interact with us.
“I do the same thing. I have a book where I write copious notes on all players and on different aspects of the game. This is an important part of my coaching philosophy. When I was playing in under-19 level, I asked Gavaskar about something and he told me to sit outside the dressing room, watch the action and observe. That was a great piece of advice. I tell the players to do that, watch and be a keen observer,’’ said Pandit.
The Vidarbha coach also said that he learnt the art of man management from Ashok Mankad. Pandit saw Mankad handle players like Brijesh Patel, Parthasarathy Sharma, Uday Joshi, Dhiraj Parsana. “It was from him I gained knowledge on how to keep the team together. It was while batting with Vengsarkar, I developed the Mumbai maidan’s khadoos (tough) character. “One aspect of it was not throwing away the wicket. I tell the batsmen not to do that. I learnt to play positive cricket by watching Patil. It was while leading Mumbai that I acquired the knack of reading the pitch from Polly Kaka,” said Pandit. Pandit said the victories over Punjab and Bengal and Karnataka changed the mindset of the Vidarbha team. At the start of the season, he changed the shuffling technique of R. Sanjay. He and Subroto Banrejee (bowling coach) made seamer Rajneesh Gurbani bowl close to the off stump. “We may have been harsh, but it worked,” signed off Pandit, who will visit Nagpur for a big celebration on January 5.
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