Kolkata, Nov 6 (PTI) "Kitna cricket khela hai?" used to be a common refrain in Indian cricket till some years back about anyone who harboured coaching aspirations at a higher level.
R Sridhar, the former Hyderabad left-arm spinner, who was a part of the Ravi Shastri-led coaching staff, first changed that perception turning India from a "good" to a "gun" fielding unit in the past few years.
But it is T Dilip, the current Indian fielding coach, who would perhaps help in reaffirming the perception that you don't need to be a big star to be well respected as a coach. In fact, you don't need to be a first-class player also. All that matters is what you bring to the table.
The man, who has become quite the centre of attention with his dressing room speeches and made BCCI.TV's oft-criticised banal content look good with his fielding medal ceremonies, has been around the system forever.
Dilip is perhaps the best example of someone who has risen through the ranks, coaching in a state cricket academy's junior age-group programme, serving as an assistant fielding coach in the now defunct IPL side Deccan Chargers while also spending a decade at the National Cricket Academy (NCA).
His has been a fascinating journey as his family never supported his cricketing ambitions and he gave part-time maths tuition to school kids to supplement his income which would in turn help him to fund his own coaching.
"Dilip is a very hard working coach. He worked as an assistant with Mike Young, a baseball coach, who was head fielding coach at Deccan Chargers. He had good results in his Levels 2 and 3 courses. He then extensively worked with R. Sridhar at NCA.
"For years, he was part of 150-day per year coaching contracts that used to be given," a BCCI source, who has keenly tracked the developments at NCA, told PTI on condition of anonymity.
Since 2012 Dilip has worked at various, ZCA (Zonal Cricket Academy) and National Cricket Academy (NCA) age-group camps. He has worked with the likes of Shubman Gill, Tilak Varma, Yashashvi Jaiswal during his NCA days and hence, there is a familiarity with the younger group of cricketers in the national set-up.
As far as the senior players are concerned, his good work didn't go unnoticed by erstwhile NCA director Rahul Dravid, who ensured that Dilip got regular India A assignments, which would also help him develop training modules for elite cricketers.
"Things have changed a lot in Indian cricket. Now the top cricketers don't go by the bio-data of your playing days. They see what is the kind of value addition that you do.
"There are times when you deal with elite cricketers, you also add value by shutting up. You need to know when your input is necessary. I can tell you BCCI's Level-3 course material is so thorough, those who have passed are very good," the BCCI source, who worked in NCA, added.
For someone who put in extra effort to develop communication skills which wasn't great at one point, Dilip's speeches and the eloquence with which he describes the fielding effort of each of the players after every World Cup game, has been a visual treat.
More so, how players have warmed up to him shows that he has earned the respect of the dressing room. "You got to give credit to Rahul. He creates that environment of respect by respecting the individual's skills. The others then follow suit. That's how you build a culture of respect and camaraderie at the same time.
"Have you seen the fielding of Kuldeep and Siraj? Dilip deserves credit for the improvement," a former NCA coach said.
The best viewpoint on coaches who haven't had a distinguished career in cricket and have still earned the respect was put forth a few months back by Ravichandran Ashwin on his YouTube channel.
"None of those teachers who teach computer science, physics, chemistry or mathematics have been scientists, engineers or doctors in their profession.
"They have been teachers all through their life. Somewhere for the candle (star player) to burn bright, the wax is melting and these teachers are such waxes," Ashwin had aptly put it.
Dilip, the 'BTS Man' of Indian team has earned his stripes. PTI KHS KHS APA APA