India better than their hockey ranking, says England coach

England’s chief hockey coach Bobby Crutchley believes that eight-time Olympic Champions India are much better than their World No.10 ranking.

World No.4 England and India are clubbed in the same group with Olympic champions and World No.1 Germany and New Zealand in the Hockey World League Final that starts here Friday at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

England start their campaign against India and Crutchley, who was appointed last year, feels that the hosts can hope to reclaim their lost glory only gradually.

“India’s ranking doesn’t reflect its true potential. They have the talent but they cannot dream to become the No.1 team overnight but have to take gradual steps to improve,” the 43-year-old Crutchley told IANS here on the sidelines of a practice session.

The Briton said both India and England lack consistency and that is hurting them a lot.

“Both India and England struggle to achieve consistency. It will be interesting to see whether we can maintain consistency in the tournament. We would like to keep up our performance at the top level even if we are not getting the results. The focus will be on developing performance and then the results will come. The challenge for India is to focus on those little small improvements without thinking of becoming No.1 tomorrow,” said Crutchley.

The former England international said that India captain Sardar Singh stand out in the Indian team even though there are some good players. Crutchley said England would try to restrict Sardar’s movement Friday in their opening encounter.

“India have a number of top players but I think Sardar is the best. He has been consistently good for a number of years. Some of the other players have shown glimpses of real quality but if a few players could match his consistency and performance, then that would make a big difference,” said Crutchley, who had 80 international caps.

Going into Friday’s game, Crutchley feels both England and India are at par due to lack of match practice.

“We are probably a bit like India; not played many matches recently. But we have done quite a lot of training. Our strategy will be just about focussing on our game and to give our best performance out there, not worrying too much about India,” said Crutchley.—IANS