Age-group cricket serves a limited purpose: Dravid

“One of the things I realised when I took over the Under-19 team was that people stay on and play too much of Under-19. They want to keep playing U-19 cricket, which is very dangerous,” Rahul Dravid said.

Rahul Dravid, the India Under-19 and A team coach, said that it was important to strike a balance between age-group cricket and the top level.   -  PTI

Felicitations can sometimes be tricky affairs. Organisations do them ostensibly to honour people with extraordinary achievements but fail to strike a balance between that and their personal desire to gain maximum publicity for the same.

It was no different at a function for Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami. Organised by the FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) here on Tuesday with Rahul Dravid as the felicitator, the event soon descended into a chaotic affair.

While Mithali supported the idea of a women’s IPL saying, “It will lead to having a big pool of players and will give a push to the domestic and international cricket,” Jhulan admitted there were still issues in the Indian society that made sports as a career for women a problematic affair.

Dravid hailed the rise of women role models in the sport. “It’s fantastic to see the energy built up around women’s sport in general and cricket specially. Young girls now have their own role models to look up to, they don’t need a Rahul Dravid or a Sachin Tendulkar,” he told Sportstar after the function.

“One of the things I realised when I took over the Under-19 team was that people stay on and play too much of Under-19. They want to keep playing U-19 cricket, which is very dangerous.

READ: Change in bat size will have an impact, says Dravid

“So we took the decision of not allowing any player to play two U-19 World Cups. This meant five of the players from the last WC, who are eligible for the coming WC in January, won’t be playing.”

The India Under-19 and A team coach added that it was important to strike a balance between age-group cricket and the top level. “The positive thing is that guys like Washington Sundar, Zeeshan Ansari, Mahipal Lomror and Armaan Jaffer have all been picked for their First Class sides. Age group cricket has a purpose but the players then have to go and ultimately play men’s cricket. That’s what we decided with Prithvi (Shaw) as well,” he added.

U-23 an important bridge

Given the myriad of avenues available for players now, Dravid admitted Under-23 cricket was not exactly very prominent, but insisted it still had a role to play. “I don’t think it will ever be redundant completely.

“Yes, the quality of cricket might not always be great but it still provides an opportunity for players. It’s hard to make it to the state teams at the Under-19 level. Not everyone can play for India and not everyone can make the state team immediately after Under-19. U-23 gives you a platform to push your case. It’s an important bridge,” he said.

And while Dravid was not too bothered with the new rules on bat sizes — It will have an impact (but) it’s the quality of pitch and ground which matters in cricket, not the bat, he insisted — he did smile when asked about the latest obsession with the Yo-Yo Test. “It’s nothing new, we have done it our time as well so it’s been always there.

“But now they are setting certain benchmarks and standards and that’s the direction in which the team wants to go, so it’s good and useful. We are following it in the A team as well,” he said.

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