Combined junior teams for north-eastern states

The National Cricket Academy Board, during its recent meeting in New Delhi, has agreed in principle to field the Combined Team in the Under-16 and Under-19 teams. The teams will consist of players from Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, the six states from north-eastern India

Representative image.   -  Reuters

In yet another attempt to please the Supreme Court by adopting recommendations of the Justice R.N. Lodha, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is set to field a Combined Team from six north-eastern states in the inter-state junior tournaments.

The National Cricket Academy Board, during its recent meeting in New Delhi, has agreed in principle to field the Combined Team in the Under-16 and Under-19 teams. The teams will consist of players from Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, the six states from north-eastern India. Tripura and Assam, the other two states in the region, field teams in all BCCI tournaments since they are full members.

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“It has been discussed that the young cricketers from the unrepresented states in north-east will be initiated with the junior tournaments,” said Niranjan Shah, the chairman of the NCA Board, from Rajkot.

“Besides selecting the teams, the BCCI has already started selection process and has started a preparatory camp of talented cricketers.”

During the last week, all five members of the BCCI junior selection panel, led by Venkatesh Prasad, conducted selection trials in Shillong and Dimapur for the preparatory camp. The committee has shortlisted 25 cricketers each from Under-16 and Under-19 categories, who will undergo intense training ahead of the forthcoming season.

While the move has been initiated by BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, some of his colleagues in the BCCI were pushing for the Combined Team to be thrust into the Ranji Trophy. However, that plan has been stalled for now due to the quality of cricket. Two of the five junior selectors confided that the quality of cricketers in the region is not up to the mark.

“At the moment, the focus is on grooming young talent in the region. Once these players get proper facilities and expert advice, they can be groomed into matching with the best in the rest of the country. A Ranji Trophy team for the region is a premature thought at the moment. It will take some time,” said Shah.

While the BCCI isn’t admitting in as many words, the move has been fallout of the Lodha panel report. “It is also left to the discretion of the BCCI… for the purposes of expediency and convenience, the teams representing the States of the North-East be combined as well,” stated the report that suggested the BCCI’s administrative overhaul.

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