Cricket Coaching

During my first year of teaching at St. Francis High School in Pune, I started to raise funds for my classroom to help facilitate activities and field trips for my children. In my second year, one of the activities that my children expressed an interest in was cricket coaching. As our school had a large playground, this was a feasible and convenient option to explore. Using a contact provided by one of my students, I arranged for a cricket coach to come to school on Sunday mornings for 2-3 hours to work with the children who were keen on cricket. My students brought their own bats and equipment while I purchased the cricket balls.

There were around 10 boys from my class who regularly attended the classes. Both the coach, Shubham, and I were strict about children coming on time at 6:30 a.m. so that we could get sufficient time before it became too hot. Shubham used to begin by asking kids to jog a few rounds of the school field to get warmed up before proceeding to stretching exercises.

After the kids were warmed up, Shubham took them through catching drills - here, all the children and Shubham would stand in a circle and he would use the bat to hit balls at the children at random for them to catch. The kids had to be on their toes and ready to move to the side to catch the ball!

For fielding and improving speed, the kids would line up and take turns to run after and stop the ball before it reached the boundary. This drill lent itself to some good-natured competition to see who could stop the ball furthest from the boundary!

Next came batting and bowling practice. Shubham showed the kids the correct stance to take while batting before having the children alternate between batting and bowling.

On some days, we also did two fielding drills - for the first drill, kids took turns to aim to hit a single stump from a distance and the second drill involved Shubham hitting the ball up in the air for them to practice high catches.

When my students and I looked back on these cricket coaching classes together, a number of things stood out. First, it required commitment from both the children and me as our school ran from Monday to Saturday beginning at 6:45 a.m. and children who came for cricket coaching on Sunday effectively got no day off as such. Thus, these classes inculcated discipline in my children while giving them the twin benefits of exercise and learning a sport.

Second, my children had to learn to deal with the frustration caused by the Indian monsoon! From the photographs, it is evident that the surface of the playground was made of soil. The drainage system was not effective and large puddles of water used to stagnate on the ground. Thus, we had to cancel classes when it rained heavily. Classes were not as regular as they would have liked it but that is one of the drawbacks of the sport and the facilities that were available to us. This uncertainty made them value and respect the classes that we had to a greater degree.

Lastly, these classes were a great avenue for me to get to see another side of my children and interact with them in surroundings different from a classroom. They saw my sporty side as well as I ran and stretched along with them while helping Shubham in any way I could!