Kerala's U-19 players should aim to excel in first-class cricket - Biju George

Kerala U-19 coach Biju George says he wants his players to harbour the dream of succeeding in first-class cricket rather than playing only in the IPL.

Biju George is the head coach of Kerala's U-19 cricket team. - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Kerala U-19 cricket coach Biju George says he wants his players to harbour the dream of succeeding in first-class cricket rather than playing only in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The Kerala U-19 cricket team for the Vinoo Mankad Trophy has eight players who have all trained at the Sports Authority of India's cricket coaching centre at the Medical College ground in Thiruvananthapuram. At the centre, it was Biju George who trained them.

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"My ideal path for them is that they should play for India U-19 and then come and succeed in first-class cricket and then go to IPL. SAI has few coaches for cricket, we were recruited earlier. The boys here are very good. See where Hardik Pandya came from and where he is today. I believe out of these eight boys we have in the Kerala U-19 team, they will play for India," George told ANI.

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George is also the childhood coach of Rajasthan Royals skipper Sanju Samson. When asked about the coaching process he follows at the SAI Centre, Biju George said: "We run this centre, we have been running it for the past 10 years and it is absolutely free. The kids come around when they are 11-12 years old. Sanju Samson had come here when he was 11, he was training here till [2019] but he is training in Madras now. We try to deliberately target people who are from lower financial backgrounds. We target such people, but we have children from different backgrounds but we treat them equally."

"Sachin Baby, who is playing for RCB currently, hails from our SAI Centre; K. M. Asif (CSK) belonged to a lower financial background, he faced so many difficulties. He came to our centre and he kept on practicing, he played for Kerala and then he played the IPL. Anybody who comes here for coaching, we ask them for every detail and we try to provide every facility. We run the facility for 365 days and we do not take any holidays. We are functional on Sunday as well," he added.

The Vinoo Mankad Trophy is scheduled to take place from September 28 to October 29. The tournament will form part of the 2021-22 Indian domestic cricket season that was announced by the BCCI in July.

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