In the early and mid-2000s, India was a mediocre fielding side. Barring Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif, there were no swift movers on the cricket field. The standards of Indian fielding were nowhere near South Africa’s or Australia’s.
A decade later, a revolution took place and today India is doing better than most teams in fielding. It all started from ground level when the new generation was taught the ‘right way’ to go about things.
Fielding is all about fitness and most of today’s crop of young Indian cricketers are as fit as tennis players. But there is one man who has played a key role in molding the young generations in the right way with his innovative drills. He is none other than India’s U-19 fielding coach Abhay Sharma. The 48-year old has been India”s U-19 coach for quite some time now.
He was there on India U-19 tour of England which turned out to be historic. India U-19 whitewashed England U-19 across all forms of the game. They won the test series 2-0 and ODIS 5-0.
Abhay Sharma was a wicketkeeper who has played for Delhi, Railways, and Rajasthan in the domestic circuit. A veteran of 89 FC matches he has scored around 4000 runs at an average of 35.
Abhay Sharma was on the board as a fielding coach in India’s 2016 U-19 World Cup. There he taught the boys how to stop the ball diving to either of your sides and then throw it quickly. In a video posted on BCCI’s website during the U-19 WC 2016, Sharma is seen demonstrating the technique numerous times and keep a close eye on boys as they polish their diving skills. Team India had a successful campaign and were the runners-up in the tournament.
He was rewarded for his great service with junior players by a contract with Indian team on tour of Zimbabwe in June 2016. India beat Zimbabwe 3-0 in ODIS and 2-1 in T20Is back then. There he said that he has been helping fielders to enable them to use their parafoveal vision.
Parafoveal vision is that part of an image focused on the region of the retina surrounding the fovea. It helps the fielders to choose the correct end to throw in the blink of an eye.
He is known for shaping the career of various Indian cricketers including that of Indian leg-spinner Karn Sharma. He spotted Karn as a 19-year-old in 2007-08, picked him in Railways squad and when Karn scored hundred on first-class debut he taught him to leg spin bowling.
Abhay Sharma may not have been an Indian all-time great but his contribution to Indian cricket is invaluable.
– by Atharva Apte