Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vivek Razdan on TA Sekar and the Pace Foundation

‘TA Sekar was the lifeline of the Pace Foundation. He was the ‘Foundation’ of the Pace Foundation’ – Vivek Razdan, part of the first batch of trainees at MRF Pace Foundation in 1988

Vivek Razdan was part of the first batch of fast bowlers to be trained at the pace foundation in Madras - there were 12 of them from outside Madras, prominent among them being Harvindar Singh Sodhi and Subrato Banerji. Ashish Winston Zaidi joined a little later. Razdan had a three year stint with TA Sekar starting 1988. He joined Vivekananda College in Mylapore and played for the college and the Madras University.  He also played first division league here in Madras. In fact, Razdan made his Ranji debut for Tamil Nadu before moving later to Delhi.

Within a year and a half of joining the MRF Pace Foundation and working with Sekar, Razdan had found a place in the Indian team that toured Pakistan (the debut series for Sachin Tendulkar) under Srikkanth’s captaincy. It was a meteoric rise for Razdan from a raw fast bowler when he first came to meet Sekar to a Test cricketer within a period of 18months. In his debut series, Razdan had a 5wicket haul in the last test.

Razdan who currently does regular TV commentary on the Indian domestic matches spoke from Delhi recounting those days in the late 1980s.

“We came in from different parts of the country. We were all still in our teens. Early on, it was a cultural shock for us there in Madras.  But the kind of personal care that Sekar took of us, throughout that three year period we felt we had an extended family out here. He showered brotherly love on all of us. We were truly blessed to have interacted with Sekar and Lillee at that young age. The three years went off so quickly and so smoothly.”

On the specific cricketing contribution made by Sekar, Razdan says, “The pace foundation could not have reached the heights today without Sekar. All the improvements in us were enforced (and reinforced) by him. (Dennis) Lillee was there at the camp for a week to 10days twice a year and played an invaluable role in sharing insights that only he was capable of. But Sekar was with us all through 365days guiding us all the way through. He got us the opportunities to play in the TNCA first division league. Till then, all of us had played only 40over matches. For the first time, we were playing 2day league matches. We had the opportunity to bowl regularly at batsmen such as Robin Singh and WV Raman.”

In those early days, he brought in Jatin Paranjpe, Venkataraghavan and Raj Singh Dungapur to take a look at us in the pace foundation camp.

On the coaching methodology, “Sekar had a specific chart for each of us, something that was not in vogue in India at that time. He wanted to see specific improvements in us on a periodic basis and would be behind us to ensure that we implemented those. It was not just theoretical. He made sure we understood that finer aspects. He was particular on every step of the process- the run up, the bowling action, the follow through, line and length, accuracy. He would video tape us and sit with us to discuss specific aspects and guide each of the bowlers on the corrective steps. Some of the theoretical steps are easy to preach but Sekar would actually show us himself as to how to implement it- for example side on bowling.”

He brought Video tapes of some of Lillee’s best spells and would personally sit with us and discuss the finer points of fast bowling with Lillee as the example. We also used to sit and discuss steps to get each batsman out.

‘Not just bowling, his fielding drills were difficult to match at that point of time. He wanted us to be the best of fielders and also wanted us to contribute with the bat.”

In the mornings, we were out in the Marina for 90minutes as part of our fitness regime.

“Sekar was the man we looked up to for everything. He would share with us feedback from Lillee and would get us all that we wanted on the MRF front, from Mr. Ravi Mammen. For us, the first batch of fast bowlers who worked with him, I can say that he was just such a wonderful human being and guide. And we owe everything to him for what he did for us in those formative years of our cricket.”

To me, TA Sekar was the ‘Foundation’ of the ‘Pace Foundation’. He was the lifeline of the Pace Foundation. Without him, it would not be where it is now.'

1 comment:

M said...

Some time back the question was asked why few fast bowlers come out despite MRF's existence(Folks like Irfan Pathan, Balaji perform at peak for 2-3 years before becoming patchy). Even Sri Lankan bowlers like Malinga benefited from visiting the academy. Now seeing the amount of work and technical expertise TA Sekhar put in, it appears that a lot of our bowlers do not do all the homework that is necessary to become a top flight fast bowler. I recollect Kapil Dev saying in 1989, "Look at bowlers like Chetan, Maninder. How much talent they had but where they ended up!"