Abhishek Nayar appointed as mentor in first-of-its-kind KKR Academy

In a bid to extend their connect with its young cricketers beyond the duration of the Indian Premier League season, the Kolkata Knight Riders launched the ‘KKR Academy’ on Wednesday(July 11). Abhishek Nayar, who served as a mentor to KKR captain Dinesh Karthik in personal capacity and also operated as a consultant to the first team during IPL 2018, will function as the head coach of the academy, it was announced.

Nayar will be assisted in his role by KKR video analyst AR Srikkanth and Omkar Salvi, who worked as a bowling coach with Mumbai until recently. KKR had clearly voiced their displeasure in having to build squads as large as 27 which left young and fringe players playing just bit-part roles in the team nets. For the recent season, they operated with a wafer-thin 19-member squad and squeezed the best out of it to finish third in the season.

Over the course of the season, several youngsters stepped up to become first-team regulars, including Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh. This KKR Academy will now work with these youngsters and their games in a bid to work on their skill sets before the start of the next domestic season beginning in September.

“Post the IPL season, I had a meeting with Venky Sir to discuss the ways forward, and he was very keen on starting something where we can help the cricketers throughout the year,” Nayar told KKR’s website. “A lot of times, what happens is that we come into the IPL and pick players based on their talent. Whether or not they do well depends on their own preparations, so we thought as to what we can do to affect that – to find a change where we can add a little more value to a cricketer’s career and not just come and practice, do well in the IPL, and go away.

“The idea was to have a journey with them wherein you’re taking care of them, understanding them, their problems, and the small difficulties they face through a season, not only in the IPL,but in the Ranji trophy or in (domestic) T20s, basically everything that comprises the overall growth of a cricketer,” Nayar added.

The first two-week camp will get underway in Bengaluru with Rinku, Apoorv Wankhede, Rana and Gill taking part. Five more cricketers will join the camp soon and will join in the training sessions which will include physical conditioning work apart from skill training on different types of pitches.

“The idea of KKR Academy has been part of our vision with a view to helping our cricketers improve their skills and fitness as well as grooming talent and providing them a perfect platform to showcase their skills. This is another step in the professionalisation of the Knight Riders franchise,” said KKR’s CEO Venky Mysore.

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