After returning from a week-long camp with World Cup winning coach Gary Kirsten in Cape Town, Utkarsh Agrawal and Riyan Mohammed cannot wait to put their knowledge and skills they learnt into practice.
Agrawal, 15 and Mohammed, 17, underwent several intensive training sessions at Kirsten’s own academy under the guidance of the 48-year-old himself and his staff.
With the schedule including fitness assessments, video sessions, drills, one-on-ones, seminars on the importance of mentality as well as a gruelling hike up the iconic Table Mountain, it proved to be a challenging seven days.
This is all part of Kirsten’s philosophy and his coaching methods which he implements to aspiring cricketers in South Africa, having reaped the rewards by guiding India and his native nation to the top of the Test rankings.
Agrawal, who moved to India last week, was left in awe and believed the experience will put him in good stead when he continues his cricket education in Mumbai.
“It was a great week out there and I learnt how to increase my pace when bowling and improve my batting,” he said. “Gary analysed me and then asked me to hit different types of shots, like the reverse sweep or hitting the ball straight with the bowling machine.
“It was intense because it required a lot of focus but I now want to build on this. I want to score more runs and take more wickets but I’ll keep on working hard that one day I can play cricket at the highest level.”
Riyan, a UAE Under-19 international, believed the camp was something completely different to what he has experienced before.
“It gave me a glimpse of what it would be if I was a professional cricketer training every day,” said the batsman. “It wasn’t just about cricket, we had to climb the Table Mountain early in the morning, not just to see the views, but to show the coaches how fit we were.
“I felt that my game improved and can put these skills into use when I play matches in the future.”
Kirsten was left impressed about the potential of the duo and wished them the best.
“Riyan and Utkarsh had a positive and rewarding experience with us at our academy in Cape Town,” he said. “The time spent gave them the opportunity to learn more about their games.”
The opportunity for the youngsters came through head coach of Dubai’s Cover Drive Academy, Kobus Olivier, who played with Kirsten in South Africa. He hoped this will be the start of more future exchange programme camps.
“It’s a great initiative and learning from Gary who has done it at the top level, certainly inspired the boys,” he said. “I hope by the end of the year, even more youngsters can train with Gary and his team.”
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