Cricket is a sport where it is essential for the coach and the support staff to remain in the periphery and let the captain and his troops take the limelight. This is very unlike football or basketball where the manager or coach has to make all the strategic calls even while the game is on. Even in Davis Cup tennis, the non-playing Captain is the one who calls the shots as that’s the nature of the beast.
There are exceptions like Justin Langer who as coach is probably the main man in the Australian dressing room, but it’s important to understand the dire state he took his current job in. Cricket Australia weren’t just looking at on field results, but also changing the perception of the team and winning back the hearts of the public after letting them down horribly in Cape Town.
If one looks at the other side, Greg Chappell was an imposing personality who loved the limelight even as a coach and it is for everyone to see how that turned out for him. However, in the modern era when one talks about the support staff, it’s not just limited to a team manager, head coach and physio. Sometimes the number of support staff is equal to the number of players on tour.
While it’s a player centric sport without a doubt, it’s easy to forget the contribution of some of the brilliant helpers behind the scene. One member of the Indian entourage who’s often the source of envy of the opposition is the official ball thrower ‘Raghu’ or D Raghavendra who’s often seen throw the ball tirelessly at the Indian batsman for hours at a stretch with a spoon like object called ‘sidearm’.
Virat Kohli recently revealed Raghu’s importance to the team and in fact went on to say that he was the major reason for the improvement of Indian batsman against pace bowling. He can ratchet up speed to about 150-155 kmph and for a long stretch. “I believe the improvement this team has shown while playing fast bowling since 2013 has been because of Raghu,” Kohli said during an Instagram Live session with Bangladesh star Tamim Iqbal. It was heartening to see Virat identifying the efforts of the unsung hero of Indian cricket.