Goa adopts youthful selection policy, drops senior cricketers

Ahead of the domestic season, the Goa Cricket Association has decided to leave out the old warhorses — Shadab Jakati, Swapnil Asnodkar, Saurabh Bandekar and Amit Yadav — from its pre-season camp.

Swapnil Asnodkar (L), 34, has been dropped from the Goan side.   -  V.V. Subhramanyam

Looks like the Goa Cricket Association (GCA) has taken a leaf out of Greg Chappell’s books!

Adapting a ‘catch them young’ policy — something the legendary Australia coach had started during his stint as the coach of India — ahead of the domestic season, the association has decided to leave out the old warhorses — Shadab Jakati, Swapnil Asnodkar, Saurabh Bandekar and Amit Yadav — from its pre-season camp.

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The reason, given by the GCA, is also quite significant: ‘there’s no room for seniors who are not fit and are out of form.’

In the last couple of seasons, Goa had poor performances in the Ranji Trophy. It finished last in the group table with six points from six games last year, while in the 2016-17 season, it had finished sixth in the group stage, with 18 points from nine games.

So, under the watchful eyes of coach, Prakash Mayekar, the youngsters are sweating it out at the nets. And the only old hand in the camp is captain Sagun Kamat — who interestingly, is a 35-year-old seasoned campaigner.

So, what is it that forced the GCA to keep the other seniors out?

The association secretary, Daya Pagi, is quite blunt with his answer. “The guideline is clear. No matter how senior a player is, he has to be fit and must be in good form. We had informed all the seniors about this policy much in advance,” Pagi tells Sportstar.

 

The secretary also insists that they won’t soften the stand on selection criteria. “Last year, the selectors spoke to these players one on one. It was also conveyed that without improving their fitness, they won’t be considered for selection,” the secretary says.

However, the players, Sportstar has spoken to, differ with the association’s arguments. Though they don’t want to comment on the issue yet, most of them insist that it may not be just about fitness and form. “I am not sure what it is about. But looks like it has got little to do with just form,” Jakati, one of the state’s prominent cricketers, says refusing to talk further.

For the record, Asnodkar has been one of the leading scorers for the limited-overs team last season, while Jakati remains one of the consistent bowlers.

And what is more significant is the fact that after showing the doors to the seniors, the GCA, in its general meeting on Sunday, has decided to bring in two or three professional players for the season. “We have decided to bring in one all-rounder, one fast bowler and one batsman. If not three, we will definitely bring two players,” Pagi confirms.

A seasoned cricketer, who has been with Goa in the past, however, finds this decision quite strange. “If you are getting rid of seniors and bringing in juniors then why settle for senior players from other states. That would dilute the purpose, no?” he reasons.

While the ignored players are patiently waiting, they still haven’t thought of switching teams. But even if they do, the GCA is ready to issue them No-Objection Certificate. “There is no problem for us. They are free players, so if they want to move out, we will not block the way,” Pagi says.

Over the last few years, the state's cricket has been in the news not for the good reasons and now with it dropping the senior players, it would be interesting to see how the team fares in the domestic tournaments.