BCCI advisory board making the right noises

BCCI had recently announced an advisory board for the national team comprising of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. It wasn’t clear what the actual role of these greats were as a part of the advisory board. The advisory board though has started making recommendations within weeks of their appointment suggesting that improvement of the national and domestic scene would be their primary role.

Here are some recommendations made by the board to BCCI:

Identify a pool of 30 bowlers:

This is probably the most important recommendation of all. Bowling has been a major trouble for team India over the years and this if implemented probably will help towards correcting that. The recommendation was to identify 15 pacers and 15 spinners from domestic as well as U-19 and U-23 cricket and appoint mentors for both disciplines to take care of them. But it is not clear as to what taking care means. Whether they will coach them actively or will these bowlers be part of some sort of camp is not something which is mentioned yet. It will be great if these bowlers are also kept away from IPL and are only played in domestic/A-tours. BCCI selection committee will be responsible to identify these 30 bowlers and it will be interesting to see who makes it to the final list.

Increase the number of A-tours:

This is something BCCI has been already doing. India does play quite a lot of A-tours. The recommendation though suggests that BCCI should schedule A-tours few months ahead of an international away series. This will be a good one as this will allow players to get acclimatized to the conditions ahead of time and will help them to plan for the tour. BCCI did do this last year with A-tour to SA months before India toured there for 2 tests but this isn’t something which is happening more frequently.

Renew the Talent Resource Development Wing (TRDW):

This was something which was introduced way back and was scraped for some reason. The new advisory board wants to renew or reinstate the TRDW again. The Talent Resource Development Officers (TRDO’s) used to attend domestic games and identify bright talents across the country. The primary role of the TRDO’s was to just do that but again this idea was scrapped and this is no longer happening. I read somewhere that the match referees are doubling as the talent scouts which does not make sense. So this seems like another good recommendation.

So these are some interesting developments after the BCCI initiative with the advisory board. The board has made some important recommendations but again it will be interesting to see how and when BCCI implements these. It is great to see the advisory board taking their role seriously but again unless these recommendations actually take effect we cannot read too much into them.

Bowlers need a mentor too

Zaheer Khan did excellently well as a mentor for young bowlers in the Delhi Daredevils team this season.

Zaheer Khan did excellently well as a mentor for young bowlers in the Delhi Daredevils team this season.

Rahul Dravid has been recently announced as the coach for the Indian A teams and the U-19 teams. This is great news for the Indian cricket fans as Rahul Dravid is an international great and has been often mentioned as a great mentor for young cricket players. Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson have spoken highly about Rahul during his time as Rajasthan Royals captain. Dravid also has great eye for talent as he has spotted players like Rahane, Lokesh Rahul and Samson as future international prospects way before they were picked for India.

This is indeed as great move by BCCI after Rahul declined to be part of the advisory board which BCCI announced recently comprising of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. The only negative I see about all this is that there has been no bowler in sight in any of these panels. The Indian team as we all know has always struggled with the bowling and batting has never been a huge concern in the long run. India always churns out good batsmen and the advisory board consisting of only batting greats is disturbing. It would have been great if BCCI had requested Javagal Srinath or Zaheer Khan to be part of the U-19 and Indian coaching team to mentor the young bowlers.

Even though Zaheer hasn’t technically retired, it was seen that he was able to mentor young bowlers effectively in the IPL and looked like someone who could work with the U-19 bowlers and pass on some valuable tips. Zaheer and Srinath have been the best pace bowlers for Indian over the last 20 years and it will be great if the BCCI could use their expertise effectively. The advisory panel for the Indian team too needs a bowling component. If BCCI cannot find an Indian bowler to join the coaching or the advisory panel they should try and get an overseas coach. If India needs to become a force at the international level they need a good bowling unit.

The current crop needs guidance and help which will be paramount for their development. Young bowlers like Sandeep Sharma need the required support and advice before they make the transition to the national side. The Indian bowlers like Mohd Shami, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron need to be groomed and be taken care. The BCCI has always ignored development of the bowlers and it is the same with the current advisory board. Even though this is a welcome change and a good initiative, it can be better.

I hope that new advisory board recommends such initiatives for the bowlers. Rahul Dravid is a smart individual and I hope that he includes a good bowling coach/mentor for the u-19 and India A teams. The bowlers need to be developed at the grass roots level and need good guidance from someone who understands fast bowling. Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly can be great asset to the coaching staff but again I would have loved to see a bowling component to the team. BCCI should work with the greats and come up with a plan to help the bowlers. If India does not take care of the current crop we will once again end up losing these great talents and end up looking for new brigade as we have been doing over the last 15 years. Hope some sense prevails and we see some development towards this in the coming months.

IPL 2011 Auction– Sourav’s Snub and Kumble’s wise decision

The IPL “Tamasha” auction just concluded last weekend and the biggest surprise of all was non inclusion of Sourav Ganguly. Sourav was one of the high profile players who found no takers at the auction. West Indians Brian Lara and Chris Gayle were the others to not find any bidders. Sourav who was an icon player for his home side Kolkata Knightriders for the first three seasons was not retained by his franchise. He entered this year’s auction with a base price of $400,000.

The biggest surprise was the lack of interest in one of the greatest captain’s of the Indian team. He did not have a bad IPL III either. Kolkata who did not retain him also did not make an attempt to get him back in the auction. I would say that it would have been a very bitter pill to swallow for Sourav and I don’t think he deserves such treatment. There have been lots of money shed over few players who I feel have been extremely lucky as some of them haven’t played any form of cricket for a long time.

Sourav’s snub should rank as one of the worst in the IPL till date. Being one the greatest players for the Indian team he deserved better and I hope that he gracefully exits the IPL scene. I do not want him to accept any sort of coaching opportunities presented by Kolkata owners as the damage has already been done.

Rahul Dravid and Laxman who also weren’t retained by their respective franchises were extremely lucky to have been picked up by the Rajasthan Royals and Kochi respectively. . Anil Kumble though made the wisest of choices as he decided to pull himself out of the auction at the last moment. He might have had to play for a different state team which probably he might not have wanted or he probably thought that he might also be snubbed in this auction so wanted to stay ahead of the game. Not exactly sure what the reason behind his decision was but it was a brilliant one. He has been made as the “Chief Mentor” for his former franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore.

With most of the teams already settled, it’s sad to see that Sourav Ganguly had to bow out this way as a player from the IPL. I am not sure if he would continue playing domestic cricket either. For all the laurels he had brought to the team India, he for sure needed a better send off. The Kolkata team owner Shahrukh Khan in an attempt to pacify the angry Sourav fans offered him a management position but I am not sure if Dada would be interested in the same. The damage has been already done and a severe blow has been dealt, so accepting a coaching role would only add insult to injury.

Motera wicket was disappointing

The India-Sri Lanka series touted as the race to number one rankings had a disappointing start with the first test match in Motera ending in a dull draw. The test match in Ahmadabad is all that is wrong with Indian cricket. When there have been calls to save the oldest form of the game around the world, BCCI have dished out boredom to drive the fans away from the grounds. Its seems like BCCI is only worried about the money they can make out of sponsorships and IPL and not a bit bothered about the state of pitches in India.

Sambit Bal last year wrote an article on cricinfo blasting Pakistani pitches after the Karachi game but the pitches in India are not that far behind. Sambit’s intentions may have been good by singling out pitches in Pakistan was not the right way to go. Reading the recent article by Dileep Premachandran, it seems like there is not much of a difference between the pitches in Pakistan and India. India has one of the worst percentages of results when compared to other cricketing nations.

According to the article, India has hosted 24 games in the past 60 months out of which 11 have been draws. This is a pathetic statistic for a team who is trying to become the best side in the world. With ever increasing T20 leagues in India I guess the BCCI have to take more interest in improving the quality of test cricket in India. I don’t think that anything of that sort has been even tried yet by the board. As Sourav Ganguly rightly mentioned in his column, even though Rahul Dravid and Mahela scored those brilliant hundreds the Motera pitch was a real disappointment.

No one wants to watch a game where the bowlers are just mere participants with not effect whatsoever and the batsmen are running the show. The unfortunate part is that the grounds men in India are in so much pressure to make matches last for 5 days for the BCCI to make money out of TV rights. Already we have seen paltry crowds for test matches in India and with these sorts of pitches ardent lovers of the format like me will also be driven out of the stadiums in the future.

Test cricket is still the premium form of cricket around the world and efforts should be taken to improve the quality of pitches around the world. The ICCI should crack down heavily on boards that encourage pitches like Motera for International fixtures. Kanpur (Venue for the second game which concluded last week) test was heading the same direction as Motera after the first day’s play but was saved by the result.

India crush Aussies to go one up

India crushed the world champions to win the second test and go one up in the series. The Indians will be really pleased with the win as this was a total team performance and was not achieved on a typical dust bowl. Almost everyone in the team contributed to the win with Dhoni brilliantly leading from the front. Dhoni had temporarily taken the responsibility of captaining the team in the absence of injured Kumble and proved that he is ready to take over the reigns when the great leggie steps down.
The Indians dominated the proceeding starting with the toss on the first day. A great start by the openers, fantastic century by Ganguly, good batting from Sachin and Dhoni made sure that India got to a competetive 469 in the first innings. Sachin and Sourav both reached singnificant landmarks during their respective knocks in the Indian first innings as Sachin became the higest run getter in tests and Sourav passed 7000 test runs.
The Indian bowlers complemented their batsmen splendidly by bowling out the Australians for 268 giving a lead of 201 runs. Zaheer and Ishant were impressive at the start with Mishra and Harbajan running through the middle and lower order. Amit Mishra had a fantastic start to test cricket grabbing 5 wickets on debut. He finished with 7 wickets in the match and seemed ready to take over the baton from Kumble whenever he decides to call it a day.
The Australians chasing an impossible 516 for a victory after yet another great batting display by the Indians in the second innings collapsed to a dismal 195 to hand a 320 run victory to the host. Ishant and Zaheer again among the wickets with Harbajan and Mishra combining well again in the second essay. Australians though will be really dissapointed with their performance as none of their top order batsmen were able to stay long enough to string a partnership and their bowlers were clueless against the aggressive Indian batsmen.
All in all it was a excellent display by the Indians to go one up in the series. It seems like Kumble will be back in the third test which means that Mishra would not be playing. Mishra has taken a gaint step towards the Indian test team with his performance which will stand him in good state once Kumble decides to hang his boots.
Even though the Indians have handed the Aussies their largest defeat in over a decade, they should not let complacency to set into their games. The Australians are still the number one team and it requires just one good innings or one good spell to reverse the situation for the visitors. Indians should continue their same ruthless approach in Delhi too and make sure that the series is won when the reach Kanpur for the final game.

India crush Aussies to go one up

Zaheer Cleans up Brad Haddin on the 5th morning

Zaheer Cleans up Brad Haddin on the 5th morning

India crushed the world champions to win the second test and go one up in the series. The Indians will be really pleased with the win as this was a total team performance and was not achieved on a typical dust bowl. Almost everyone in the team contributed to the win with Dhoni brilliantly leading from the front. Dhoni had temporarily taken the responsibility of captaining the team in the absence of injured Kumble and proved that he is ready to take over the reigns when the great leggie steps down.

The Indians dominated the proceeding starting with the toss on the first day. A great start by the openers, fantastic century by Ganguly, good batting from Sachin and Dhoni made sure that India got to a competetive 469 in the first innings. Sachin and Sourav both reached singnificant landmarks during their respective knocks in the Indian first innings as Sachin became the higest run getter in tests and Sourav passed 7000 test runs.

The Indian bowlers complemented their batsmen splendidly by bowling out the Australians for 268 giving a lead of 201 runs. Zaheer and Ishant were impressive at the start with Mishra and Harbajan running through the middle and lower order. Amit Mishra had a fantastic start to test cricket grabbing 5 wickets on debut. He finished with 7 wickets in the match and seemed ready to take over the baton from Kumble whenever he decides to call it a day.

The Australians chasing an impossible 516 for a victory after yet another great batting display by the Indians in the second innings collapsed to a dismal 195 to hand a 320 run victory to the host. Ishant and Zaheer again among the wickets with Harbajan and Mishra combining well again in the second essay. Australians though will be really dissapointed with their performance as none of their top order batsmen were able to stay long enough to string a partnership and their bowlers were clueless against the aggressive Indian batsmen.

All in all it was a excellent display by the Indians to go one up in the series. It seems like Kumble will be back in the third test which means that Mishra would not be playing. Mishra has taken a gaint step towards the Indian test team with his performance which will stand him in good state once Kumble decides to hang his boots.

Even though the Indians have handed the Aussies their largest defeat in over a decade, they should not let complacency to set into their games. The Australians are still the number one team and it requires just one good innings or one good spell to reverse the situation for the visitors. Indians should continue their same ruthless approach in Delhi too and make sure that the series is won when the reach Kanpur for the final game.

Team selection on Wednesday

The Indian selectors get together this wednesday to pick the team for the upcoming test series against the Aussies. Everyone is keen to find out if Ganguly who was left out of the ROI team in the Irani trophy would be considered for the test series or not. The team selection itself proves to be quite interesting if Ganguly is left out of the team which will be the most likely scenario.

The top four for the first test at least pick themselves. Sehwag and Ghambir are most certain to open the innings followed by Dravid at number 3 and Sachin at 4. Laxman might bat at number 5 but there is one spot which will be vacant in the Indian middle order. It will be interesting to see who will replace Ganguly at that spot. There are quite a few contenders fighting for that one spot in the Indian middle order. The two most likely to occupy that spot would be either Badrinath or Rohit Sharma but there are few others with an outside chance. Mohammed kaif with a good knock in Irani trophy could have got himself in contention but his twin failures could work against him. Then there is Virat Kohli who had great Srilankan tour performing with great consistancy in the one day series.

A year ago if some one had asked me as to who would be the likely candidate to replace Sourav in the test team, I would have no hesitation to say Yuvraj’s name. But in the current scenario he has as much chance as the guy we are talking he can replace to make the team. It seems though that either Badrinath or Rohit Sharma might make the test team this time. So I guess the top 6 might look something like this,

1. Sehwag
2. Ghambir
3. Dravid
4. Sachin
5. Badrinath or Rohit Sharma
6. Laxman

The top 6 will be followed by Mahindra Singh Dhoni who will be proceeded by the bowlers. The first test might see Kumble and Harbajan bowling in tandem with Ishant and Zaheer taking the new ball. Munaf might be in the 15 but may not play at least in the first test.

All in all its going to be an interesting selection with a possibility of Sourav still making the team.