Despite India being a country with a population of over 1.3 billion, the nation lacks high-level affordable cricket academies. At the grassroots level, the coaching centres leave a lot to be desired and cricketers who make it at the highest level are well aware of that fact.
As a result, many of them attempt to give back to the sport that has brought them fame and money by opening cricket academies, with the aim of nurturing the next generation of talent. Many retired cricketers such as Roger Binny, Madan Lal, and Dilip Vengsarkar, and Virender Sehwag have opened accomplished cricket academies.
Some active Indian players have also tried their hand out at this venture, with most of them achieving reasonable reasonable success at home, although the centres outside the country have failed to take off.
In this article, we take a look at 4 active Indian cricketers who have opened cricket academies.
#1 MS Dhoni
The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper is part of the 'MS Dhoni Cricket Academy' (MSDCA) initiative that boasts of academies all over the world. Apart from branches in the Indian cities of Lucknow, Gurgaon, Bokaro, and Bareilly, the MSDCA also has outlets in Dubai and Singapore.
Launched in partnership with management company Aarka Sports, the academy employs Indian coaches who follow a program designed by MS Dhoni himself.
Speaking at the launch of the MSDCA in Dubai, the wicket-keeper said:
"I am delighted to be a part of this venture and will contribute in every way possible to make it a success. It has been my dream to contribute to the game in every way possible. This is the first step in that direction. The enthusiasm of the trainees is what will drive this venture."
#2 Harbhajan Singh
The 'Harbhajan Singh Institute of Cricket' (HSIC) has three branches - Lucknow, Kolkata, and Bhajji's hometown of Jalandhar in Punjab.
The training program at the institute is specially designed by the CSK spinner and the centres were founded in collaboration with the Final Score Management company.
The HSIC website states the following:
"Bringing in expertise and equipment that hasn’t been seen before outside international team dressing rooms - this is Harbhajan’s dream. To provide nothing but the best to young, aspiring cricketers. To groom the future of Indian cricket."
#3 Ravichandran Ashwin
Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is the mentor of the 'Gen-Next Cricket Institute', an academy he co-founded with his father N. Ravichandran. The institute has 6 centres in Ashwin's hometown of Chennai alone, and also carries out operations in Sharjah, UAE, and the United Kingdom.
The Gen-Next academy has specialised training programs for each age group, with special emphasis on evolving to suit the modern game. Like most training academies in Chennai, it also conducts a summer coaching camp each year.
On the academy's official website, the off-spinner states the following as the motivation behind the name 'Gen-Next':
"Spin bowling is like a software, if you don't try & upgrade it, you will fall by wayside."
#4 & #5 Yusuf and Irfan Pathan
The 'Cricket Academy of the Pathans' has various centres across India in states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Haryana, and of course the Pathan brothers' home state of Gujarat.
It has enjoyed vast success since its official inception in 2017, which was preceded by a pilot academy (a test) in Vadodara. Both Yusuf and Irfan Pathan are Directors of the venture, with former Indian coach Greg Chappell as the Chief Mentor.
The official website of the academy states the following as the motivation behind the endeavour:
"Cricket Academy of Pathans is an institute born out of a simple thought of 'giving back' and is all set to revolutionise the standards of coaching and development of cricket in India. After their notable contribution over the years to Indian cricket, the Pathan brothers now intend to eradicate the one major hurdle in the path of churning out talented cricketers from India: lack of proper coaching."