What's the story
The various Indian Premier League (IPL) teams have often been pointed out for an erratic relationship with the youngsters who sign up to play for them.
Once the season ends, the players are made to go their separate ways and they hear not much about their IPL sides until it's almost time for the next one to begin.
Hence the youngsters are seldom associated with an IPL side as much as with their state sides or regional teams.
The Kolkata Knight Riders seemed to have understood the issue, and in an effort to hold its young players together even after a particular IPL season has long ended, they have set forth in a new venture, the "KKR Academy", since Wednesday, July 11.
Along with the launch, cricketer Abhishek Nayar was also named head coach of the academy.
"The idea of KKR Academy has been part of our vision with a view to helping our cricketers improve their skills and fitness as well as grooming talent and providing them with a perfect platform to showcase their skills.
This is another step in the professionalisation of the Knight Riders franchise," said KKR's CEO Venky Mysore. Himself and Nayar were speaking to the KKR official website.
"After the IPL season, I had a meeting with Venky Sir to discuss the way forward, and he was very keen on starting something where we can help the cricketers throughout the year," Nayar said. He was also vocally critical on the way IPL teams dealt with their youngsters, him having been an example himself back in his playing days.
Apparently, IPL squads pick up the young players based on talent more than form, and it is up to the players individually, whether or not they perform.
It generally depended on a player's individual efforts, for which the team can rarely take credit for. If they do not fare in accordance with the team's expectations, they are slowly lowered down the pecking order.
Nayar's idea was different as he went to meet the KKR head. In his own words, he intended to add a little more effort from the squad's part to help improve a cricketer's career, so that they could last longer.
"The idea was to have a journey with them wherein you're taking care of them, understanding them, their problems, and the small difficulties they face through a season, not only in the IPL,but in the Ranji trophy or in (domestic) T20s, basically everything that comprises the overall growth of a cricketer," Nayar added while speaking to the KKR website.
KKR video analyst AR Srikkanth and Omkar Salvi who worked as a bowling coach with Mumbai until recently will be a part of the new venture as they will be assisting Nayar as part of the academy.
In case you didn't know...
Nayar is a medium pacer - allrounder who has played for the National side. His consistency for Mumbai in the domestic circuits followed up by decent stints at Mumbai Indians, Kings XI Punjab, Pune Warriors and Rajasthan Royals between 2008 and 2014, marked his ability as a cricketer.
Since 2014, he had not featured in the IPL as a player but returned in 2018 as a mentor to KKR captain Dinesh Karthik. He also operated as a consultant to the squad at the same time.
As all sides built big sides last season, with numbers as high as 27 players in some teams, Kolkata stood apart playing with just 19 throughout the season. Yet, they managed to make the best of their options, as they finished third.
While many teams dropped players halfway owing to lack of chances or performances not matching expectations, KKR played a different game there as well, allowing several youngsters such as Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana and Rinku SIngh to play in the first-team.
The youngsters reaped the opportunities as well. As the academy sets shop before September this year, the young trio will definitely be a part of the biggest plans.
The first two-week camp will be held in Bengaluru before the domestic season of this year begins. That should be in late September, so the academy plans to start its training camps earlier than that.
Rinku, Rana, Gill and Apoorv Wankhede will be the chief participants. taking part. Five more cricketers will join the camp afterwards.
The training sessions of the camps are believed to include skill training on different types of pitches, as well as some physical conditioning drills.
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