It was an experience that none of the 17 budding cricketers will forget any time soon after they were given a masterclass by a World Cup-winning coach.
Gary Kirsten, who guided India to the 2011 World Cup triumph, coached youths in a special clinic in Dubai last week as he continues to nurture the stars of tomorrow.
Unlike previous clinics he had in Dubai, the South African worked one-on-one with each of the young cricketers for one hour, who were specially selected for the programme.
Having worked with some of the greatest cricketers in the game like Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, the 48-year-old knows what qualities players require to be at the top. And he ensured the youngsters did not miss out on that knowledge.
The one-on-one sessions were followed by a three-hour group session at Coverdrive Academy with Kirsten stressing on the importance of holding small classes.
“The only way to improve players’ skills is to coach them in the right coaching space,” said Kirsten.
“And that is one-on-one coaching and in small groups.”
Students ranged from nine to 17-years including Mohammed Riyan, who represented the UAE in the U-19 ACC Premier League tournament in Malaysia in August.
And while the practical sessions may be over with Kirsten, the South African will still keep an eye on how they develop, giving advice on how to improve after observing video footage.
It’s a philosophy that Coverdrive owner Kobus Olivier knows well having known the former South African opener for more than 15 years.
“Gary really took this masterclass to another level,” said Olivier.
“He knows the importance of how crucial one-on-one coaching is. Group sessions are really good and I always feel people learn more if they get one-on-one coaching and if the groups are small.”
The clinic, part of the Pro Coach programme, was hailed a huge success by Olivier.
“The children really enjoyed themselves and it was an unbelievable experience,” he said.
“They took things very seriously and always wanted to learn and it really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to work with one of the most respected coaches in the world.
“Gary told me he was certainly impressed with the talent he saw and he will hold another class when he is back in the UAE in January.”
UAE hope for better T20 show
The UAE will be aiming to get back to winning ways and level the scores when they meet England Lions in today’s second T20 practice match.
The hosts suffered a close eight-run defeat at the ICC Academy on Saturday despite Fahad Tariq’s fine half-century.
The tourists were bowled out for 127 with three-wicket hauls from Zaheer Maqsood and Farhan Tariq and while UAE captain Ahmed Raza was pleased with his bowlers, the Interface spinner has urged the batsmen to up their game.
“Our bowlers did a perfect job and I was quite pleased with what I saw,” said Raza.
“There were a lot of positives to take from the game with the batting performances from Fahad Tariq and Ahmed Shaukat but we still need to be a bit more responsible with our batting.
“We are getting the singles and twos but in the middle of the innings, we need to score more runs and especially boundaries.
"The boys know that and we know it will be difficult because we saw from our first game how talented the England Lions team are.”
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