Despite heavy spending by BCCI, few state units nurture junior cricket

India are U-19 world champions, but young cricketing talent is forced to battle the odds due to the apathy of state associations like Delhi apart from players being unable to replicate heroics at junior level among seniors.

cricket Updated: Jun 07, 2018 10:30 IST
BCCI,Indian cricket team,India U-19 cricket team
India under-19 are world champions, twice as strong as any other team but the system needs to address troubling issues at the ground level. (PTI)

When Nasser Hussain and Kevin Pietersen gushed about Indian juniors, they indirectly indicted England for failing to attract young talent.

They also missed the point that India’s success is not entirely by design, but is partly accidental. To an extent, the impressive rise of India’s young cricketers is the result of planning and preparation.

India under-19 are world champions, twice as strong as any other team. The IPL confirmed some junior stars are ‘ready’, notably Prithvi Shaw, who has scored five hundreds from 10 games, including centuries on debut in Ranji and Duleep.

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In the last few years, BCCI has invested generously in under-19 and India A, appointed Rahul Dravid coach/mentor and scheduled exposure tours abroad. It also organises training camps and uses NCA as a finishing school.

SEETHING ISSUES

All this is fine but the system needs to address troubling issues at the ground level. Junior cricket, sadly, is low priority in state associations that see this as an unnecessary burden.

Senior teams are assigned the best resources; junior cricket has to make do with leftovers. In Delhi, one example of such neglect is DDCA’s failure to run a coaching facility for its junior teams.

Because of this, children are forced to go to private players and unregulated coaching shops spread across the city. That DDA and SAI (whose core activity is not cricket) operate round-the-year cricket coaching shows DDCA has abdicated its responsibility of developing and promoting cricket.

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Far more serious are concerns about age-group fraud and selection-related corruption.

The BCCI has taken steps to medically check age but corruption in junior team selections has gone unnoticed and is a bomb waiting to explode. Selection for cash at the under 14-16-19 level is Indian cricket’s startup industry. Equally big is the challenge to ensure talent at the junior level does not go waste.

Virat Kohli is a remarkable case of an under-19 cricketer rising to the top – it confirms the talent pathway works – but there are many who have lost their way after a brief handshake with fame.

FADING AWAY

Unmukt Chand was destined for stardom but after 60 matches and eight years of first-class cricket, is not sure of his place in the Delhi team. Same is the fate of Sarfaraz Khan, a hugely talented junior yet to make a name in senior company.

Also don’t forget Nathu Singh, so promising yesterday but not around anywhere, forgotten completely. From all accounts, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti are quality players but neither has played Ranji, nor has Manjot Kalra.

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Shubman Gill and Abhishek Sharma have started their first-class journeys and seniors Ishan Kishan/Rishabh Pant/ Anmolpreet Singh (3 hundreds, including two double centuries, in five games) are already attracting attention at the higher level.

It is tempting to think ahead and predict success for these players based on promise and potential. But cricket, unpredictable and uncertain, proves pundits and punters wrong and many who look good fall by the wayside.

Hopefully, the latest lot that made such an impressive splash in IPL will make a name for itself and Indian cricket.

First Published: Jun 07, 2018 09:42 IST