The Hindu: The month-long stint with Olympic silver medallist Bob Haigh in Adelaide has had a clear effect on the Indian women's hockey players. 

"Their confidence level is definitely up and a good report on their endurance from a coach of Mr. Haigh's calibre has added further impetus to the team," said national coach M.K. Kaushik. 

The head coach at the SA Institute of Sport, Haigh was part of the Australian men's hockey team that won silver medals in the 1968 and 1976 Olympics. 

The 20-member team returned from Australia early on Monday with loads of experience, but there was some regret as the assured Tests with Australia never happened. The Indian Women's Hockey Federation (IWHF) had got the team cleared for the Australian camp, a package that also included Test matches against the home side. 

But as the things turned out, the Indian side had to settle for six matches against an Australian club. India won all the matches but no one is complaining about the quality of contests. 

"Australian clubs play the same style as their national team and above all we were there to learn the nuances of Australian hockey under Mr. Haigh," is how Mr. Kaushik described the outing. 

"In that respect our tour was a success. We learnt a lot about our pluses and minuses and hope to improve upon them.” 

In Adelaide, the women were put on daily two-hour training with Haigh making assessment after each session. On the endurance front, Indian women scored well but they lacked in strength. 

Since February 2004, Indian women had been cooling their heels without any proper international exposure. The Australian stint was aimed at providing them a chance to get back into rhythm as 2006 beckons with three major international tournaments. India will defend its title at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne then play in the World Cup in Madrid before the Asian Games in Doha. 

"Australia plays a mix of European and Asian styles and was best suited for our players," Kaushik said. 

As the Melbourne Commonwealth Games are almost a year away, the immediate gain of the Australian camp will go to the junior players. 

"The ten youngsters who were part of the team should benefit from the camp as they prepare for the junior World Cup.” 

The junior camp is to start in Delhi on 25 April for the Junior World Cup in Chile in September. 

For the seniors, there are just two international events this year - a four-nation invitational tournament in Singapore next month with Korea and Malaysia being the other teams; and the revived Indira Gandhi Gold Cup, in October here in the capital.