THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The much-famed National Cricket Academy side that won the Karnataka State Cricket Association’s (KSCA) all-India invitational tournament at Bangalore on Friday did not feature a single Kerala player, but in the backroom, city-based coach Biju George was instrumental in their success.
Biju trains cricketers at the Medical College Ground here, but when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to enroll the NCA side in the tournament, the role of guiding the young pack fell upon the Sports Authority of India (SAI) coach.
“The NCA was a very strong team with most of the players touted to play for India in the near future. Everything went well and it was a great experience for me as a coach,” Biju said. The NCA side put on a total of 656 which enabled a huge first innings lead of 379, that helped them overcome the Haryana Cricket Association XI in the four-day match held at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. A 15-year-old batsman, in particular, hailing from Chennai grabbed the notice of the coach. Washington Sunder scored 162 in the final and another half century during the tournament and Biju is impressed.
“Sunder only had limited opportunities to bat, but when he got the chance, he pounced on it. He can go on to play at a very high level,” said the SAI coach, who has unearthed talents like Sanju V Samson, Raiphi Vincent Gomez and Rohan Prem.
He was in charge of several Indian under-19 internationals, including captain Vijay Zol, Kuldeep Yadav and Deepak Hooda, but Biju said it was an easy task to coach the group.
“It was just about man management and performance analysis. All of the players were raring to go and I just had to define them their role for the day and get each of them into their comfort zones and the performance followed,” he said.
NCA defeated Kerala, Assam, Mumbai and Karnataka on their way to the final and Biju says Mumbai was the toughest opponent.