The first camp of the KKR Academy was a big hit among the Knights who managed to squeeze out time from their busy schedules and take part in the program that panned across two intense weeks. One of the main points that was highlighted right through the camp by many, from Venky Mysore, Knight Riders' CEO and MD, to Abhishek Nayar, the head coach and mentor, was to prepare our players for all formats. With the long domestic season coming up, there was a lot of focus on red-ball practice, keeping long-form cricket in mind.
"I think IPL is still an easy stage compared to what we face in the domestic circles, due to challenging wickets, the matches going on for four days, the red ball etc.," said Nitish Rana, who was around for most part of the camp.
"Right now, we are preparing for the red ball because that's where your technique gets tested," Apurva Desai, the batting consultant at KKR Academy pointed out. "If we look at the domestic calendar, it's a bit of a mix this year. We are starting with the Vijay Hazare ODI tournament and then going on to the Ranji Trophy.
"We are not looking at IPL right now we are only looking at the next season, if they do well in all formats it augurs well for their careers."
Speaking on preparing the players for the red ball specifically, Nayar said: "Both balls work differently. I feel the red ball swings a lot, we play a lot of red ball cricket in the Ranji Trophy, practising with the red ball makes sure your technique doesn't get compromised. Throughout these 2 weeks of the camp we want to make sure nothing gets stagnated, they don't do the same thing again and again, there's something challenging everyday and that's why we keep changing it up."
The camp was not only a platform to fine-tune the technical stuff involved with youngsters like Rana, Shubman Gill, Rinku Singh and Apoorv Wankhade, but it also served as an opportunity for experienced campaigners like Robin Uthappa, Vinay Kumar and Piyush Chawla to brush up their skills before the domestic season.
"The red ball does a whole lot more than the white ball," Uthappa explained. "The white ball initially does something for the fast bowlers and then stops doing things after a while.
"It's more important for us to practice with the red ball, you challenge yourself more in the nets, your red ball experience also helps you when playing white ball cricket."
"As a fast bowler, you get more help from the red ball as the swing sustains for a while unlike the white ball which just swings for 5-8 overs," said Vinay, echoing Uthappa's theory. "Once it gets older, the red ball will swing more and even start to reverse swing after a certain stage. In that way the red ball helps the bowlers as they have to negotiate the swing in the initial overs unlike the white ball in which the batsman comes at you from ball one.
"In red ball cricket, how much time do you spend on the wicket is very important, you need to hold the shape of the ball, take care of your foot movement and getting settled in the middle and deciding which ball to play and which ball to leave."
AR Srikkanth, KKR's long-serving performance analyst felt it was a great initiative to make sure the Knights were high in confidence by the time the next season of the IPL returns.
"Its only going to make them better cricketers and if there is a weakness which the support staff has found out and the player is aware about, then these camps will help overcome those or at least address them and its beneficial for both the players and the franchise," he said.
Agreeing to Srikkanth's words, Venky Mysore said it was that very thought which gave birth to the idea of the KKR Academy.
"They will take that confidence, they will take the wickets they take, the runs that they score and come out and eventually adapt that to white-ball cricket. That is is why you will notice that we are using red balls in the nets (at the KKR Academy)."
For more updates on what goes on in the Knight Camp, stay tuned to www.kkr.in, and of course, our social media pages that keep you closer to our Knights through the year.