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  • 02 Aug
    导出博客文章Fourteen years ago, Robin Uthappa, a teenage batsman who came with the
    reputation of being Karnatakas batting future, replaced J Arunkumar in the state
    side before the start of the domestic season. Arunkumar, a senior player and
    part of Ranji Trophy-winning sides in 1995-96, 1997-98 and 1998-99, was
    aggrieved and turned professional, playing for Assam and Goa before retiring in
    2008. Four years later, when he took on a coaching role with Karnataka,
    Arunkumar found himself in the same position as the selectors were in 2002-03,
    having to take the brave call of dropping seniors.This decision, Arunkumar
    believes, has led to the renaissance of Karnataka cricket, taking them from an
    almost there side to back-to-back Ranji Trophy titles in 2013-14 and 2014-15. It
    is a process he is prepared to stick to as Karnataka look to reclaim the title
    they lost in 2015-16. They have begun promisingly this season, with a win and a
    draw from two matches.It was tough, but [there were] very conscious decisions to
    replace senior players like KB Pawan, Ganesh Satish and a few others, Arunkumar,
    who is now head coach, told ESPNcricinfo. That call was a must then because the
    team management was mindful of the bigger picture. By that I mean, by 26-27 if a
    cricketer wasnt playing for India A at least, chances of the national cap were
    remote. We didnt want a situation where a player is just happy playing state
    cricket and then going away. It was a bold decision we took when asked to
    present a roadmap for the state team, one that has worked wonderfully so
    far.Arunkumar said the decision to part with senior players put tremendous
    pressure on the youngsters, with some of them scrutinised on a match-by-match
    basis. When Arunkumar took over as batting coach before the 2012-13 season, KL
    Rahul was not a regular in the side. Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal and Shreyas
    Gopal had not made their first-class debuts. Manish Pandey was far from national
    reckoning and Uthappa was struggling with form and fitness after being left out
    of the India team.Rahul, for example, made his first-class debut in 2010, but
    was dropped after three matches. It took him two more years to re-establish
    himself. Nair, too, failed in his first two matches. There was pressure not to
    give more chances, but as coach, you have to go by instinct, and I went with my
    heart, Arunkumar said. Even someone like Karun Nair did well in only his third
    game.A lot of times I have seen, and I say it from experience, that some players
    are slow starters. As a coach you have to give them the confidence. You need to
    be transparent and straightforward, you cant be manipulative and get away; you
    will be sorted otherwise. We were in fact extremely lucky to have a core group
    in such quick time that the two championship wins brought many of them in
    national focus. The national focus brought with it new challenges. The price
    Karnataka have paid for being so successful over the past couple of seasons is
    that they have lost players to the national or India A teams at various stages.
    While it is a matter of pride, Arunkumar said the challenge lay in handling fame
    and remaining grounded.Luckily were in a good position where those who have
    played for India realise the need to not take things lightly when they return,
    Arunkumar said. That is the challenge for us as coaches to bring out the best in
    them. There is an inclination to not give 100% sometimes, but we have given
    everybody ownership and authority to take their decisions, else coaches will be
    made to look like prison wardens. Thats what we were taught in 1995-96 when we
    won the Ranji Trophy.In 2015-16, Karnataka suffered from the after-effects of
    another aspect of national-team ambitions. Senior players Uthappa and CM Gautam
    had a small misunderstanding over their roles in the side because of the split
    wicket-keeping policy that stemmed from Uthappas desire to press his case as a
    keeper-batsman for India, a role he had fulfilled with Kolkata Knight Riders.CM
    probably missed out on an IPL contract because of that, but all that is in the
    past now, Arunkumar insisted. CM lost a bit of credibility because no one saw
    him as a wicketkeeper, but he did it for the team. Robin himself realised it was
    affecting team chemistry. So this season we decided to let specialists handle
    their own jobs.With the team set to remain on the road for the next three
    months, Arunkumar believes bonding between the players will be vital when wins
    are elusive. Theyre all mostly friends even outside the cricket ground, he said.
    They plan bike rides, movies, treks and outings during the off season. We all
    regularly meet for dinners during the season too. Were even allowed to have a
    couple of beers from time to time to celebrate victories. As a coach, you cant
    be imposing and set team rules and curfews. The boys understand where to draw
    the line, so its fine.
    Amani Hooker
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