HYDERABAD : It was since the start of the 21st century that Indian shuttlers started making a mark. It started with Pullela Gopichand’s All England Open win in 2001.
The next medal took a while in men’s singles, but consistency was always there. Players like Anup Sridhar and Chetan Anand had come to the fore and were successful at the big stage.
Then came a time in 2014-15 when P Kashyap, Kidambi Srikanth and Ajay Jayaram took consistency to greater heights and were able to win Super Series tournaments.
As many as four men were in the top 20 with Srikanth at No 3 and Kashyap at No 6. But since then there has been a sudden drop in rankings. Now, India has just one player inside the top 20, Jayaram at No 18.
Kashyap, Srikanth and HS Prannoy have all been bogged down with injury-related problems. And the second string, which includes Jayaram, B Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma are yet to deliver.
Verma managed to reach the final of the Hong Kong Open in 2016 and won the Syed Modi Grand Prix in 2017 but it did not have a strong field. That the focus on returns, or lack thereof, from the men, is a consequence of how well the women have done in the last half-a-dozen years.
Many would blame players for lack of success at the highest level, but the coaches should come up and take responsibility, feels SM Arif, a veteran badminton coach. “The problem is the kind of guidance our players are getting. Our boys have done well in patches, but then to be consistent you need a coach to take you further,” Arif told Express.
“Our boys train well but just before the matches they don’t follow the regime properly. Coaches should push their wards to give everything just before any tourney, to get the desired results.”
In 2015, Srikanth played over 50 games. That number was reduced to 30 in 2016. This just shows the lack of planning which can result in loss of crucial ranking points.
“There needs to be proper planning on how many tournaments a player is playing (in a year). Coaches should chalk out a proper schedule,” he added.
“Coaching is a passion. Detailed analysis of every movement that a player makes should be made by the coach. That’s what is required,” he concluded.