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Glenn Turner keen to embark on individual coaching

Glenn Turner keen to embark on individual coaching track

Glenn Turner, New Zealand’s first truly professional cricketer, will not be lost to cricket despite pulling back from fulltime team coaching.

He plans to concentrate on specialist one-to-one coaching to help lift New Zealand’s sagging stocks which have taken a battering at the hands of the Australians this summer. He is soon to become a free agent, when his fulltime contract finishes with Otago.

Turner has been a household name in New Zealand cricket for 41 years after making his first-class debut as a schoolboy – against Canterbury at Dunedin in 1964.

He became the first New Zealander to score two hundreds in a test, at Christchurch in 1973-74, when the Kiwis beat Australia for the first (and last) time. His most famous achievement in England came as a New Zealand tourist: in 1973 he became the first person to score 1000 runs by the end of May for 35 years.

He later coached New Zealand in the mid 80s and then again in 1995/96 – before being pushed aside during Chris Doig’s reign - and has been coach of the Otago team for four years.

By the middle of the year, Turner will finish with Otago to look for contract work after changing his base from Dunedin to Wanaka.

With 41 years involvement in first-class cricket, Turner has so much to offer New Zealand cricket. It’s not like the Black Caps whipped the Australians and sent them home packing!

The timing could not be better for Turner to provide specialist coaching for leading individuals. He is one of New Zealand cricket’s most respected characters and his knowledge has been under-utilised in recent years.

The future direction of international cricket is heading into a world of specialist coaching in batting, fast bowling, spin bowling, wicketkeeping, fielding and so on. As in golf, the top paid players in the world are beginning to have their own individual coaches. ``I am not of a mind to flag away the information and knowledge that one picks up over that period of time just because I am shifting my base from Dunedin to Wanaka,’’ Turner says.

``Players probably feel they don’t get enough to go down the individual coaching track and pay for it themselves. They probably hope their provincial associations will do it! That’s an area I think I can get involved in.

``I am interested not just in the art of batting. I also have ideas on how to play the limited overs game because we have not even got close to what is possible. We had an indication of that in the 20-20 match against Australia in February.

``You hear about sides needing to keep wickets in hand for the death-overs and all that. Why limit yourself by saying you need to bat overs out. It’s how many runs you score in total – not just at the end. Batsmen should make full use of each ball bowled to you. It doesn’t matter at what stage of the game that it is. So there’s a whole change in one-day cricket mindset that needs to be encouraged there. ‘’

Turner says he would be interested in talking to groups or about strategy and how to approach a game. But he has chosen for now to leave the general team coaching roles to others.

As was apparent in the Australian series, there is a lot of work to be done in areas of personal responsibility, trying to make players more self-sufficient and to get them thinking more for themselves rather than relying on others to provide answers.

``I certainly feel there could be more intelligence in the use of sports sciences. I found through coaching we need our players to toughen up and become more professional, be prepared to make the necessary changes to improve their game and not go down the path of blame or excuses.

`` I largely grew up with my cricket in England under a well established professional regime. Then I experienced the amateur regime in New Zealand for many years and then had some cross-over between amateur and professionalism in New Zealand. We obviously still have those teething problems in NZ. We are learning to embrace and master the professional era. But we can see from other teams that tour here, and even England sides too I imagine, the way that society has gone that maybe professionalism has been broken down and we need to know how to go back to it.

``There is a fragility of many players nowadays. We are always trying to strengthen them up and strengthen their characters as individuals to cope with the rigours of international sport to accept greater personal responsibility and become less dependent on others.’’

Turner probably see whole host of areas that people could brainstorm and debate and question.

He says he noticed during the series against the World XI in February an indication of what was happening in other countries. He believes the World XI players came out here to party.

``As soon as the conditions weren’t ideal for batting then they basically threw in the towel. So, there was a real lack of personal responsibility. However, we are a more smaller set-up in New Zealand and we can make changes more rapidly than other bigger countries. So that is an area where we can move forward, ahead of others, and gain a real advantage if we can develop a strong attitude in our players.

``You can see in other countries where sides are now largely run by a small group of senior players. And they would always, human nature being what it is, make the game work for themselves.

Turner believes the current New Zealand players have a trepidatious attitude to the Australians in terms of looking up to them and convincing themselves the Aussies are superior.

``When we played Australia in that first test victory in Christchurch in 1974, I had five years playing professional cricket in England at that stage. The thing that I found that irked me and was hard to understand was how our players at that time had a real inferiority complex when it came to playing against Australia. So now even after we have so much more experience in playing terms, this series has shown we are still of that (inferior) mind.

``It is all very well to say that the Australians have a very good team at the moment but the rumblings coming out from the New Zealand side is very much one of ‘how can we beat them; they are much better than us’…and that concerns me.

``Each individual must focus on their own game and believe that they can do well against who ever is at the other end. That’s where the overall focus should be….not on the overall group saying ‘man for man they are stronger and therefore we can’t compete’. It’s just a defeatist attitude and not a performance enhancing one.’’

Turner feels the PR machines of organisations and the media tend to go down a path that generates what he calls `Superstar-it is’ in players. It is the beginning of the Tall Poppy syndrome which isn’t really healthy for anyone concerned, particularly the players.

New Zealand cricket has a wealth of knowledgeable people – not just Turner - who have played a lot of cricket and had that additional experience after playing cricket over a long period. New Zealand Cricket needs to harness more of that talent and use it as intelligently as possible.

``One of the key elements of successful coaching I believe is in belief,’’ he says. ``And a player needs to believe what they are doing. It is very easy to talk about something and a player may even agree with what you say. But they are unlikely to reproduce that under the pressure and rigours of performance while they are actually playing.

``Cricketers like most sportsmen are kinaesthetic or tactile learners. So by practising the correct skill they begin to believe. Then it’s a question of doing it often enough where it is programmed into their game where they start to do it automatically. I see too many coaches acting as servants; trying to keep people happy and motivated. If players don’t have that belief it’s all very superficial stuff. And no one is going to change something unless they have that true belief in what they are doing.’’

New Zealand Cricket will no doubt talk to Turner and discuss his future involvement – it’s not as if the Black Caps are on top of the world at the moment.


Copyright 2005 Word Of Mouth Media

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