India should concentrate on improving every day: Knowles

New Delhi, Jan 15: Olympic gold medallist and Australia captain Mark Knowles believes that the Indian team can do much better in international hockey if it concentrates on improving every day instead of trying to improve only during important tournaments.

The 29-year-old, who was part of the gold medal winning team at the 2004 Athens Games, explained that though World No.10 India can beat any team on a given day, it lacks the consistency to perform regularly against the best.

“India can definitely beat any team on any given day but they lack the consistency like the top teams in the world. One thing that (Australia head coach) Ric Charlesworth says is that every time you go on the field, you have to improve, be better and try within yourself, not just when the coach is yelling at you,” Knowles told IANS.

“I sometimes really wonder if the Indians are trying to improve everyday. They are always trying to improve around big tournaments, but is it everyday? That is where probably I would look and say they can make the most improvement. Otherwise, they are very fast, skilful and have a very good penalty corner attack.”

Knowles, who also won two Olympic bronze medals in 2008 Beijing and 2012 London, added that India is the envy of other teams because of the support staff they have.

“It depends how much they take out of (India chief coach) Terry Walsh of Australia and how much influence he can have. India have got (High Performance Director) Roelant Oltmans who is a very experienced Dutch coach.

“So they have Australian, Dutch and Indian feel at the same time. A lot of countries around the world would love to have that mix,” said Knowles, who was also part of the 2010 World Cup winning team here.

The Kookaburra is of the opinion that Indian players should take the Hockey India League (HIL) as a learning opportunity and try and squeeze out as much as possible from the foreign players.

“Last year we could see the guys getting better. That’s probably one of the things why the HIL is so great for hockey. With all the international players mixing with the Indian players, the level is going to get higher. We try and learn things from others and they should be trying to learn as well,” added the Queenslander, who played for the Jaypee Punjab Warriors in the inaugural HIL.

Named the 2007 World’s Best Young Player by the international hockey federation (FIH), Knowles admitted he and his team love coming and playing in India.

“The one thing we love about coming to India is when we get a chance to play here. I don’t like coming here and not getting to play them. There are quite a few players in our team who have never been to India before. I think this is a moment in their life they need to be excited about,” said the Australian.