Thursday, September 2, 2010

Makarand Waingankar Scores A Bullseye

Posted by Soulberry
In today's The Hindu, Makarand Waingankar pleads the case for serious Ranji Trophy action. We have also done so on TCWJ often with mixed results. One of the reasons we began this blog was to record Ranji and other domestic games. Unfortunately we couldn't quite grab all the matches or keep up. But our promise is to recommence this blog and keep it going.

Waingankar places startling facts before us

In 22 years of first class cricket Sachin Tendulkar has played only 33 Ranji Trophy matches. In 10 years Rahul Dravid has played 100 Tests, but he has played only 10 Ranji Trophy matches. From the year 2000 to 2004 he didn't play a single Ranji Trophy match and in 2005 he played only one Ranji Trophy match. But he is not known to avoid any Ranji Trophy matches.

There's more; in 18 years of his first class career Anil Kumble has never bowled to Tendulkar in a Ranji Trophy match and Javagal Srinath in 16 years bowled to Tendulkar only in the India nets.

In 12 long years of first class career Harbhajan Singh didn't play Ranji Trophy for seven years!

So India's best bowlers — Kumble, Srinath and Harbhajan — hasn't bowled to the top batsman Sachin Tendulkar in the national championship.

and then asks

How do we then expect the standard of Indian cricket to improve?

Cynics may point to India's position at the top of the table to decry the need for Ranji and any domestic cricket at all for the cream players. They might also drop in various excuses such as crowded schedules and IPL and the like,, to argue against Ranji participation.

One of the reasons I have consistently spoken for a concise IPL as against expansion of it is precisely this. The reality is that IPL must be incorporated into the scenario. But intelligently and wisely. Otherwise, all cricket suffers.

The reason many of our young 'Stars' stutter so often is because they lack strong foundations in different aspects of the game - from skills to concentration to courage deriving from having done difficult deeds before.

It is in this regard that I rate Cheteshwar Pujara highly. He is the most completely developed young player in a very long time to emerge out of India and he hasn't played for India seniors yet! Maybe good for him after all but hopefully he isn't allowed to decay.

Coming back to Makarand Waingankar, he advocates the

Australian system

We should analyse the Australian system. In 2004, when Glenn McGrath declared himself fit and available for the national team, he was politely told by the selectors to play club and State cricket to prove match fitness.

It's perfectly understandable for a top player to give Ranji Trophy a miss during the season but some players have very conveniently avoided playing domestic tournaments citing fitness or personal problems very frequently.

The Australian System per se has been debated - suggestions that the chance existence of high quality allowed the philosophies to develop and take credit instead have been put forth - but there is nothing deniable about the importance of the best players mingling with the learners. Not only does that improve the standard of cricket from the learners, it also teaches the senior players about overcoming things they may be struggling with international cricket. Yuvraj is a case in point.

Waingankar elaborates,

In the season of 1979-80 India played 13 Tests — six against Australia followed by six against Pakistan — in India during the winter and one Golden Jubilee Test against England but the Indian players also played Ranji Trophy matches in between Test matches.

Some international players avoid playing for their companies. One of the fast bowlers of the Indian team hasn't turned up to play for his employers since the time he joined them. And hardly anyone plays club cricket.

Sunil Gavaskar, after a gruelling England tour of 1979, was in the maidan tent an hour before the start of the play in the monsoon tournament (Kanga League) in Mumbai. The former Mumbai opener Sudhakar Adhikari tied the nuptial knot at nine in the morning, and rushed to play the Ranji Trophy. He scored a century and returned to the wedding hall in the evening for his reception.

When international players take part in domestic cricket, youngsters get to learn.

Teenager Dilip Vengsarkar learned more about batting watching Gavaskar from the other end for Dadar Union than listening to a dozen coaches. Former India opener Madhav Apte, who toured the West Indies in 1953, played ‘A' division tournaments for 55 years until the age of 71, facing Mumbai Ranji Trophy bowlers without a helmet.

The solution is simple. Like Australian cricket, make playing domestic cricket mandatory irrespective of the stature of a player. Sadly the stalwarts seem to have forgotten that when they were teenagers they benefited immensely by playing with cricketing icons.

The juniors in the Indian team are struggling because they haven't played with the seniors in club or State cricket.

I agree with plenty of that. I myself have opined along those lines. There is the argument of IPL crowding out domestic cricket, but if it is, then steps must be taken that IPL doesn't push out all domestic cricket. IPL must not be the Koel which pushes the pigeons eggs out of the nest, but can be a beautiful songbird in a chorus of others varieties.

I agree with plenty of that. I myself have opined along those lines. There is the argument of IPL crowding out domestic cricket, but if it is, then steps must be taken that IPL doesn't push out all domestic cricket. IPL must not be the Koel which pushes the pigeons eggs out of the nest, but can be a beautiful songbird in a chorus of others varieties.

Having seen the better days of Ranji and participated in its viewing as one of a crowd, I understand the nurturing role Ranji Trophy played to foster essential cricket in India.

Let us make Ranji THE selectorial point for Tests. It doesn't have to be how many T20s you have played or how many ODIs you have played. Rare exceptions may find their way via these routes, but that should not be the norm. It is in the overall benefit of the player and the game of cricket in India to have a sound, well-rounded game honed in a testing, competitive Ranji environment. Also, grounds and pitches must be such that they foster good cricket and allow expression and polishing of all skills - batting, bowling and fielding -while employing them in a fiercely contested match.

Domestic cricket would help develop the temperament required for all situations in international cricket. Of course, when basic material of quality is present, international cricket further hones it. But 95% of the temparement is already seeded-in in the distance between cradle at home and the outer lip of domestic cricket.

Imagine the sad irony if Rohit Sharma plays ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara in Tests!

Rohit may eventually play and play well, but anybody can see he is learning basic stuff on the job and struggling to do so. Something which a dedicated couple of seasons could have helped develop more usefully and less damagingly. But paisa and limelight are strident mistresses...

In a previous posts here, for example in Karsan Ghavri, we have also sought to recall and bring forward the excitement of Ranji matchplay and the benefit accrued by all from them. One recognizes times have changed - one has always been an advocate of allowing necessary hanges to happen which accommodate the needs of time - and therefore structures must change too. I agree, as long as they are beautifully balanced and encourage complete,overall development and also provide maximum opportunities for a satisfactory career in cricket.


straight point said...

RS in my has already played a test ahead of pujara (but for injury)... when he was selected ahead of him... and there in lies the biggest irony...

what are RS credentials... he is not even successful even in t20 or odis by any stretch of imagination to be preferred over him...

when the national selectors are hell bent on undermining ranji's performances what will motivate players like pujara to dig day in day out for ranji matches...?

first our system have to decide the priority... players will automatically fall in line...

btw nice to see you starting the ranji blog once again...

Soulberry said...

I ignored that Test because of the injury reason, but I agree with your assertion that the selection itself aead of Pujara was not based on performance.

I agree that Rohit should never have been ahead in the Q for Test selection.

What might have hppened is his T20 century at home earned him a India T20 spot. A few good matches and a decent start to ODI career built a platform for him. The he was found out and exposed by bowlers.

I doubt if Pujara would be as easy for bowlers to strip into pieces. His mind is more on the job - of playing cricket and with a sense of history too. Pujara has the connection working well between desire and effort to reach his dreams. I doubt if Rohit has the same all clear.

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daily updates said...

Nice Post keep updating like this,

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daily updates said...

Nice Post keep updating like this,

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