THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It has been a busy few months for coach Biju George. The Sports Authority of India coach from Thiruvananthapuram hopped in on a flight to Kolkata when the Kolkata Knight Riders came calling and has had an eventful journey with the Knights in IPL 2016.
During that time, Biju went from being starstruck on meeting Jacques Kallis and Wasim Akram to being praised on national TV by Yusuf Pathan. He even contracted chickenpox passed onto him by Manish Pandey, but the coach feels it was all well worth it.
"This IPL has been a steep learning curve for me and it was a privilege to learn from some of the greats of the game like head coach Kallis, mentor Akram and assistant coach Simon Katich," said Biju, a former India U-19 fielding coach.
At KKR, Biju's key responsibility as 'cricket coordinator' was to keep the 10 players outside of the matchday squad in shape and raring to go if needed. He also handled fielding lessons for the team as well as throwdowns in the nets -- one of his newer areas of expertise.
"All of the players were straightforward and specific about what they needed from the coaches. It was great working with them," said Biju praising players like KKR captain Gautam Gambhir who he termed a 'true professional'.
Biju says the tournament gave me him plenty of memories to cherish. "Kallis came up to me and said I was a value addition to the KKR coaching staff. That I will consider as one of the best achievements of my career," he said.
He was also excited to meet motivational speaker Mike Horn who has previously worked with the Indian cricket team. "During a session, he told the team that 'If you could change one thing about your life, change your attitude'. That quote will stay with me for some time," Biju said.
KKR made the eliminators of the IPL this season winning eight of their 14 matches, however, fell to eventual champions Sunrisers Hyderabad. "The performance improved from the 2015 edition. But we lost players like Andre Russell to injuries at crucial moments of the tournament which hampered us," Biju said.
Back to training young cricketers at the SAI centre in Medical College here, Biju though has little time to sit back and relax as he will be leaving for Bengaluru soon as the fielding coach of the India U-19 cricket team for a month-long camp starting June 19.