Talent of Harmeet, Unmukt shouldn't be wasted at junior level
India have some "exceptional talents" in spinner Harmeet Singh and young batsman Unmukt Chand, who should not be wasted at the junior level as they are good enough to be in any Test side in the world, former Australian skipper Ian Chappell has suggested.
Chappell even went on to question their inclusion in the Indian Under-19 side, saying they should not be playing at the junior level just for the sake of winning the trophy.
Harmeet and Unmukt played a stellar role in India's U-19 World Cup triumph in Australia on Sunday.
"He (Harmeet) bowls like Bishen Bedi, with that same natural flight and guile that would right now place him as the best spin bowler in any Test side bar England," Chappell wrote in his column for 'Cricinfo'.
"Harmeet has the skills to be a successful spinner, and only needs to develop the necessary temperament to handle the tough environment of international cricket and have a sympathetic captain," he said.
Chappell argued that junior level cricket was surely a gateway to the senior team but players such as Harmeet and Unmukt should not stay there for long.
"....it's (U-19) not the right thoroughfare for exceptional talents like Harmeet and one or two other players on show in Townsville. The very best players need to be constantly challenged from a young age, and that means regularly being upgraded when they have success at a lower level.
"That's why the big money needs to be spent on finding the right selectors rather than being lavished on a small-town population of coaches who often make decisions to justify their existence rather than in the best interests of the players.
"A cricketer like Harmeet will stagnate if he's left for too long at a lower level, because that leads to sloppy habits. Harmeet is ready to be considered for national selection.
Chappell further said: "The other U-19 player in that category is the India captain Unmukt Chand. He's a very talented batsman and should also be consistently plying his trade at a higher level.
"Both Harmeet and Chand have played first-class cricket but it isn't doing their games any good to participate in an U-19 World Cup even if it does help India win the trophy.
There's always a temptation to win another trophy but it mustn't be done at the cost of a young player's development." Chappell cited the example of selection decision in Australia to lift players such as David Boon and Rickey Ponting from the junior level early in their careers.
"I recall an exasperated Rod Marsh, when he was head coach at the Australian Academy, blurting out: "Thank heavens for Tasmania." When I asked why, he replied: "They pick young players on ability, not age." Tasmania's selectorial wisdom resulted in the fast-tracking of Boon and Ponting.
"Rodney was right. Players must be chosen for their skill level, not their age," he said.