Amrit Singh, the Wolverhampton Cricket Club batsman attended the Gary Kirsten Cricket High Performance Academy in 2019. Whilst in the United Kingdom during the recent Cricket World Cup, Ryan Cook met up with him to discuss his current season and his reflections from the HPA. This young man continues to impress with his dedication to his craft and overcoming challenges.
Q: What was your original motivation to join HPA 2019 and your expectations of the program leading into the start of it?
A: I applied for the HPA to see if I could play at a higher level as I wanted to pursue a future at the professional level, having not been involved in a county system for almost 6 years I had to rely on club nets. I was lucky enough to be playing with Aneesh Kapil who was hungry and knew what it took to get to the next level and he recommended me to apply.
I also saw it as a sink or swim kind of experience where I will learn whether I have a future in the game as I had a bit of self-doubt of not being good enough after not being in a professional set up for so long and having not been signed at 17 or 18 years old.
I had the hunger and was ready to soak up all the coach’s information in order to know what I have to work on and with my performances towards the end of the academy, I feel more confident to prove these doubts wrong.
The academy was what I expected and more, I had a pretty good idea as I had watched pretty much all the YouTube and Facebook videos on the high performance academy and had Aneesh telling me what it would be like. The attention to detail, basics and the standards expected from yourself is what really stood out.
Q: Tell me about your experience at HPA?
My experience at the HPA was amazing and better than I ever thought it could be, mainly due to the progression I felt I had made during my time there working with amazing coaches such as Adrian Birrell, Ryan Cook, Gary Kirsten, Darren Stevens, Chris Nash, Garreth Von Hoesslin and Andrew Wylie.
I felt like every session was a meaningful session and I always learned a lot and took a lot out of each session with everyone. I have a notebook full of key learnings, in there is a lot of technical and tactical things such as getting my head into the balls and not being upright and a change to my trigger which all seemed to click about 3 weeks in.
It was great to experience cricket in another country with coaches who had a unique way of coaching, not the typical English way, and seeing how different the approaches can be. My only regret was not having longer on the academy than the 8 weeks. I felt very privileged to have been there and been able to have the opportunity to learn from such great coaches.
I went through some ups and downs as well, I felt I did struggle the first week and it did get me a bit down in frustration. I remember Adi saying to me,“sometimes you have to get worse before you get better”. I felt that was the case for me as I got my head down and took everything on board from all the coaches and I really began to find my feet 3 weeks in. I feel like my bowling and fielding has improved drastically too since my time at the academy and since being back.
Q: Were there any highlights that stood out for you during your time at the HPA?
Meeting Gary Kirsten and having 1 on 1’s with him was amazing! I learnt so much from him every time. In fact, all the coaches in my 1 on 1’s were great. I remember one session I had with Darren Stevens, he said some very encouraging things, and asked what made me the player I was that day 6 weeks in from the one he saw at the start. It was nice for him to notice the improvements in my game.
From a playing point of view, scoring 70 not out in the Kent Inter squad match as well as scoring a hundred for Claremont CC was very satisfying.
Coaching the kids at the Gary Kirsten Foundation in Khayelitsha was very humbling and eye opening and to be honest just being able to play cricket and work at your game every day, Monday to Friday, was an amazing experience, I love the game and being around it so much, talking and taking part in it so intensely was a highlight on its own.
Q: Since leaving in March – what did you do in the lead up to the season?
A: In the lead up the season, I attended preseason nets with my club side Wolverhampton. The weather from arriving back in England meant it was mostly restricted to indoor training. I took the intensity and work ethic from the HPA into my sessions. A big thing for me was caring about each and every ball in the nets and making sure every session was meaningful. I worked at the areas I had to started to work on in Cape Town such as developing my sweep shot and pull shot.
Q: How has the season gone so far?
A: Playing for Wolverhampton in the Birmingham league, it started off very promising with a couple of 40’s but poor execution and shot selection got me out. I need to be greedier and ruthless and make starts into big scores, this was frustrating but also promising as my team mates and even spectators had noticed big improvements in my game.
So far I have scored 316 runs at an average of 31.6 with 3 fifties and highest score of 99 (where I got run out). I have only had 10 innings because a month into the season I suffered from a liver virus causing jaundice, so I was in and out of the hospital for 7 to 8 weeks with multiple blood tests weekly and told not to play. This was difficult, because I hadn’t been training or at work in the week but giving it all on a Saturday and Sunday for the club. It was a very mentally challenging period in my career in cricket as I had been very high off the improvements made on my time at the HPA, which gave me a lot of confidence to go out there keep working hard and score big runs, I felt like the illness came at the worst time!
However, cricket is a sport you fail more times than you ever succeed and you learn to pick yourself up and keep going and remembering the hard work put in will come good and to have the attitude of “never going away”. Only a few weeks ago my blood tests returned to normal and as a precaution they will be checking my blood again in a couple of months before finally discharging me.
The overall experience has made me more hungry and just to use this set back to come back stronger as there will always be set backs along the way to chasing your dreams.
Q: What are your aspirations for the rest of the season?
A: After the illness, it feels like the season is only just beginning for me now. I’m finally feel healthier and able to train how I was before and coming off the back of a 55 and 99 this Saturday, I feel confident about working hard and finishing very strong and hopefully scoring a few hundreds in the last half of the season and make match winning performances.
Q: Do you have any future plans coming up for the off season?
A: My future plans are to attend the HPA again in 2020 and continue where I left off making positive strides to improving and continue the great relationship with the coaches there who I feel like have got to know me and my game very well. Having learned more about my game and what it takes to take it the next level to keep improving and push for a place in a county 2nd team and impress with performances and work ethic.
For more information on the HPA 2020 and to apply, visit, https://garykirsten.com/high-performance-academy/