Indian Women’s team is a super side and I’m very confident they can win – Biju George, former Indian Women’s team fielding coach

Jonty Rhodes once said, “I got more bruises, grass burns and cuts in practice than in match play." Widely regarded as one of the best fielders to ever play the game, the former South African cricketer epitomized why fielding is such a valuable and underappreciated aspect of cricket. The qualities of what makes a good fielder is developed meticulously, and coaches play a big part in honing the skill. One such coach, Mr. Biju George has proven himself time and again at the highest level. A NIS and BCCI (level 3) certified coach, Biju George has coached the India Under 19 team, Kuwait national team, Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad and India Women’s fielding coach.

In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, we chat with Biju George who has worked with the Sports Authority of India as a cricket coach and is attached to LNCPE Thiruvananthapuram about all things cricket, fielding, grassroot development and more!

Q 1) We have always heard catches win matches, but the quality of fielding we see in IPL is far from what is desired, barring a few. Do you think team owners should keep this aspect in mind before picking a player in the auction?

Ans: When a player is picked for an auction, every aspect of the cricketer is taken into consideration. Before the Indian Premier League season starts, there will be a minimum of 15-20 days of camps where fielding is stressed upon and given much importance. With the recent lockdowns, there has been a significant drop in fielding standards and my belief is that when you are cooped up in the house and the maximum distance that you cover is the length of your room, unless you have access to a terrace or an open ground, your range of movement will be limited. When you go back to the ground and try to catch a ball which is moving at you from 75 yards, it’s a little difficult. The process takes time but it can easily be addressed.

Q 2) In a time and age when the focus is on quick runs, hard hitting shots and roles are quite defined, do you think fielding training takes a backseat? Do you find it challenging to train star batsmen and bowlers?

Ans: It is absolutely not challenging to train star batsmen and bowlers. Last season I was working with the Sunrisers Hyderabad as a fielding coach and there was so much stress on fielding. In a daily session, while the batsmen are in the nets, the others would be undergoing a fielding routine and there were days dedicated exclusively for fielding. 

Q 3) How can aspiring cricketers in India be conditioned from an early age at the grassroot level to develop into world class fielders?

Ans: There are a couple of factors that influence the development of fielders. It depends on the quality of grounds that you practice on. If you’re practicing on grounds that are very abrasive and rough, you cannot practice sliding techniques or diving techniques due to fear of injury. If a player is practicing on lush grounds with proper techniques, anybody can become a very good fielder.

biju-george-image-3 Indian Women’s team is a super side and I’m very confident they can win - Biju George, former Indian Women’s team fielding coach

Q 4) According to you, who are the fittest fielders in the Sunrisers Hyderabad team? Can you share your most memorable catch or fielding effort?

Ans: Manish Pandey and Kane Williamson are one of the fittest and best fielders in the Sunrisers Hyderabad team. During the training sessions, everybody goes out and does their best so you can't pick a single catch from a particular session. If you talk about a match, Manish Pandey had taken a stunner after dropping a catch against Mumbai Indians at Sharjah Stadium. He had to run in from long off and dive flat towards his left. It was a low catch and the ball was travelling away so it was a stunner.

Q 5) India has appointed Mr. Ramesh Powar as the new coach replacing Mr. WV Raman. How different are the coaching styles of the two?

Ans: I have worked with Tushar Arothe sir, Ramesh Pawar sir and WV Raman sir and each of them have their own coaching style and their coaching philosophy are completely different and everybody is very good in their own rights. Ramesh Pawar can be more into planning and getting the small details right. WV Raman was someone who used to motivate the players, instilling in them a belief that they can compete with the best in the world.  Each of them are different and each of them can bring their own brilliance to the table.

Q 6) Indian Women are set to play against England on June 16th, how optimistic are you of the side’s chances?

Ans: I'm very optimistic, especially in a day's match. We have got girls like Poonam Raut who can bat the whole day long, Mithali Raj, Jemimah Rodriguez, Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur along with others. We have a super side and our bowling is also spot on so I'm very confident of their chances.

Q 7) What’s your goals and aspirations for the future? What would you like to say to the young and aspiring crickets?

Ans: I strongly believe that nothing is impossible. Keep yourself fit, keep developing yourself as a player. As a coach it’s important to increase your knowledge, as a player it’s important to increase your versatility. Everyday or every season, try to analyze yourself and try to find out your strengths and weaknesses. Make your strength into super strength and make sure you try to eradicate your weakness and today or tomorrow you'll definitely achieve your dreams.


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