By Michael Nobbs
Well, we finished the Super Series as I thought we would; 3rd or 4th. It was a very interesting learning experience for me and I hope for the team too. I wish we could have given a better Diwali gift to all hockey fans.
The first thing we noticed is that Australia and NZ were physically much larger than us. We knew this from our testing that we were 8-10 kilos underweight and hence power to weight ratio was much less than our opponents. However, seeing them on the field compared to our players was alarming or maybe just a little bit scary. They are also faster and stronger in all departments.
The next thing that I noticed is due to the rules allowing pretty much anything, the stronger players could just play on and brush aside our tackles. In a normal field game, a free would have been awarded; this made a huge difference in our ability to defend.
The other really important thing we learnt was that it really highlights an individual’s skills and faults. In other words you can't hide as you can on in an 11 a side game. A number of players couldn’t adapt to the 9 a side playing conditions, either in skills or tactical play. It also showed a number of our players mostly senior players struggled.
I think cricket has also found that a different type of player is required for the T20 type of game; more mobile, able to think quickly and be physically stronger and be fast. I know they sound like the attributes we should have in the 11 a side but more so is required. It can be a good basis to pick the 11-a-side players as it’s so hard to hide any faults as it stands out dramatically.
We have four Test matches and will select the team to go to South Africa after the first two. It will be interesting to see how they perform now as they are all under pressure to make the team.
I said right from the start if we are to improve we need to play the best and Australia is clearly head and shoulders above any team in the world in all areas. It’s going to be a tough lesson for our players to learn. We are placed at somewhere between 9 and 12 in the world and the sooner our players realise that as individuals they need to improve instead of believing they are good. We aren't a good team yet and the sooner we realise this we can start the long hard journey back up the world rankings.
(Michael Nobbs is the Indian men's hockey coach)