The world record of 721 runs hit by B Manoj Kumar and Mohammed Shaibaaz Tumbi, both 13, attests to the immense potential in Indian cricket. It isn’t that figures — however impressive — always portray the true picture of cricket’s ‘glorious uncertainties’ in action. In fact, more informal versions of the game have at times seen some outrageous innings, as happened in a match in the Solomon Islands in 1969: the ball was hit into the sea, which was evidently regarded as in play, and the batsmen carried on running. After a heated debate about retrieving it from the shark-infested waters, the nearest fielder to the point of entry was eventually thrown in, although by the time the ball was returned to the stumps, the batsmen had scored a century off it.
Of course, what the two Indian colts achieved with their unbroken stand last Wednesday is far more straightforward, eclipsing the previous record of 664 runs set by Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli in 1987-88. That they put together the mammoth partnership in a single day —unlike the three days it took for Tendulkar and Kambli — makes it even more remarkable. These young prodigies suggest that India is still the subcontinental fount for blooding very young cricketers in the international arena.
The BCCI’s National Cricket Academy, launched in 2006, has given a boost to junior cricket here by revolutionising coaching methods with a scientific analysis-based approach. With national tournaments in the under-15, 17, 19, and 22 levels, and zonal camps thrown in, it’s no wonder that the last three under-19 World Cups saw several boys from each edition progress successfully to the senior ranks in double quick time.