The chairman of the junior selection committee, Sridharan Sharath, was given a promotion on Saturday after being announced as one of the five national selectors.
The former Tamil Nadu batter was a prolific player in domestic cricket and has also been a BCCI match referee and Tamil Nadu chief selector. Under his tenure as the junior committee chairman at the height of the pandemic, during which the age-group cricket programme was affected, India won the 2022 ICC U-19 World Cup and the U-19 Asia Cup.
Commenting on the tasks ahead, Sharath said that while there is a roadmap envisioned for the team going forward, the new committee is yet to sit down and meet and will take it step-by-step.
Though the stylish left-handed batter has more than 100 First-Class games under his belt with close to 9,000 runs, he is also the only one with no international cap among the five.
What he lacks in international experience, Sharath makes up for with an understanding of the domestic ecosystem built over the last decade.
“As a match referee, we have a column for the TRDO where we give inputs on the players we come across, and I have done 49 First-Class matches as a referee. I am thankful the board has recognised the value I can bring to the table. It is a continuation of what I have been doing over the last few years from referee to junior committee to the senior level,” Sharath added.
The new panel comes in at a crucial time with the 50-over World Cup at home in less than ten months and another potential ICC World Test Championship final in the middle of the year. But the more significant challenge will be to slowly start the transition process and infuse fresh blood into the team, keeping the next three to four years in mind. It is an area where the former TN player can play a crucial role.
“I have a good relationship with VVS Laxman (National Cricket Academy director), and we have worked well over the past year. We have an immense talent pool in the country. Even from the last batch of under-19, we have quite a few players doing well in Ranji Trophy. So our job is just to harness it,” he added.
Addressing the issue of not being an international, Sharath explained, “As a selector, the main role is to communicate clearly with the players. More importantly, we should leave our history as a player behind. Our job is to observe, encourage and guide players where needed to help them improve as cricketers. I am very thankful to the BCCI and TNCA for giving me this opportunity. It was an emotional moment for my mother as well to see me named as a selector after I missed out on playing for the country,” said Sharath.