Abhimanyu Cricket Academy: A cricketing hub away from the limelight
A regular day at Abhimanyu Cricket Academy in Dehradun starts with the national anthem. Situated in the foothills of Mussoorie, the academy is known to take no more than 51 kids a year, with the sole aim of helping them make it big in the sport.
"We take only 51 kids a year, with education and cricket, including 10 day-scholars. They are from the age group of nine to sixteen years. We nurture them here, then they go back to their home state, play there and get selected there," Mr RP Easwaran, the Director of ACA, said in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda.
The academy boasts of a gamut of experienced and skilful coaches. Former Ranji trophy cricketer Apurva Desai, who has guided numerous first-class cricketers to domestic as well as international glory, is an integral part of the venerated visiting faculty therein. Tushar Arothe, the man behind the inspiring rise of the National Women's Cricket Team, was also involved in the coaching at the academy before being drafted into his current role.
"We've got level three coaches coming in one after other. Tushar Arothe was here before he was picked for the women's team. We have in-house coaches as well here," Easrawan, whose son Abhimanyu is a leading batsman for Bengal Ranji Team, added.
Apart from the hands-on training that the students receive from the seasoned coaching staff, they are also privy to cutting-edge technology that helps them enhance the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of their game. In addition to that, the academy tries to infuse ancillary activities into the regular routine from time to time, so as to get industry experts and guest mentors get the best out of the budding cricketers.
"We organize high-performance camps where people like Abhishek Nayar, Sameer Dighe have come here to coach the youngsters. The camp usually takes place in June, but this time we have arranged for October.
"Shaun Tait came to coach, Alan Mullaly, Robin Smith. Praveen Amre has been here, Deep Das Gupta, Sir Ramakant Achrekar has visited us as well. We've had a plethora of coaches coming in here."
The academy not only nurtures the future generation but also acts as an all-inclusive training centre for numerous national and international cricketers. That, in itself, speaks volumes about the kind of facilities made available to the players therein.
"We have players like Dinesh Karthik, Shreyas Iyer, Mohammed Shami, Akhil Herwadkar et al coming in here. UP team had their camp here and they spent almost 38 days. ONGC organised their camp as well and Indian selector Sarandeep Singh spent time here with them. We've held camps for teams from South Africa, The Cricket Asylum Yorkshire, Scotland U19 was here, TN Ranji team has been here, twice."
Modern-day sport is incomplete without strong technical assistance and seamless diet planning for the athletes from the sidelines. What goes on behind the scenes is just as important as what transpires on the field, and those at the Abhimanyu academy are aware of the same.
"We focus on overall development, along with education and cricket obviously. Right from monitoring their weight, diet, monitoring their skills. We've got Pitch Vision software, we've got Silicon coach software. Moreover, we also have coaches who are good enough to use them."
While Dehradun is the capital of Uttarakhand and is showing strong signs on the developmental front, it is still miles behind cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, especially in terms of its cricketing reach. The first international match it hosted was just earlier this month, when Afghanistan and Bangladesh took each other on for a three-match T20 series at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
Despite knowing the limitations of their base, Easwaran is proud of the heights his academy has scaled till now. He remains hopeful of the future and believes in the power of the setup he has in place.
"56 players from our academy have played at the national level. Ours is a zero base, we're not the centre of activity as far as cricket is concerned. Had we been in Mumbai, it'd have been different. Around two years back in the UP under-16 team, four of the 11 players were ours, which speaks volume of the place."