Former India wicketkeeper-batter Ajay Ratra has been appointed the coach of Uttar Pradesh for the upcoming domestic season. The 40-year-old Ratra was previously associated with Assam, and this time, he is looking forward to working with the talented and young cricketers of the State.
“It’s a good opportunity, and the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association has a good bunch of players, and I am looking forward to working with them and sharing my experiences and channelising all things in one direction,” Ratra told Sportstar.
Earlier, there were reports that the UPCA was looking at appointing homegrown coaches for the season, but in its apex council meeting on Tuesday, it was decided that Ratra will be given the responsibility. Last season, the team was coached by Vijay Dahiya.
With Uttar Pradesh set to play its Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy matches in Jaipur from next month, Ratra does not have much time in hand, but he is confident of achieving success. “There is not much time left, but UP has some selection matches lined up, and once the squad is finalised, I will discuss with the management and see if we can have friendlies against a few other state teams. But that’s still under discussion, and we are trying to figure out whether that’s feasible,” Ratra said.
Some of the players from UP featured in the Duleep Trophy and the India A squads recently, and Ratra feels that even though the formats are different, those experiences will help the players ahead of the Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Uttar Pradesh hasn’t won a Ranji Trophy since the 2005-06 season, and the association hopes that Ratra’s presence will help. The former cricketer comes with strong recommendations from the National Cricket Academy head VVS Laxman for his coaching acumen.
“I am currently pursuing a Level-III coaching course from the NCA, so that has also helped in terms of knowledge. During my stint with NCA, I worked with a few UPCA cricketers, so I have known most of them, and I think that will help me get accustomed,” Ratra said.
He is expected to reach Kanpur soon to join the team for a preparation camp ahead of the season.