More tolerance to injuries in professional cricket today – Raman

W.V. Raman has been associated with the Tamil Nadu Ranji Trophy team as a player and a coach for the best part of three decades. A potent all-rounder in his time, he played 11 Tests and 27 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) for India, and was a part of his State’s Ranji Trophy winning team in 1988-89. Sportstar caught up with him at the launch of Sportstarlive.com.

Former Cricketer W.V. Raman at the launch of Sportstarlive in Chennai, on Sunday.   -  R. Ragu

W.V. Raman has been associated with the Tamil Nadu Ranji Trophy team as a player and a coach for the best part of three decades. A potent all-rounder in his time, he played 11 Tests and 27 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) for India, and was a part of his State’s Ranji Trophy winning team in 1988-89. Sportstar caught up with him at the launch of Sportstarlive.com.

What was it like being a sportsman in your era? What changes do you see now, especially in cricket?

The basic responsibility for an Indian sportsman remains the same. You’ve always got to ensure that the public has something to really feel happy about, something to cherish. Various other things have changed, the infrastructure is better now. Training is better, there is enough support being given to trainers, physiotherapists, and what not.

More importantly, restricting myself to cricket, injuries have seen more tolerance these days. In our days, somebody gets injured on the field, you’d be given a tag as ‘unfit’ and may not be picked at all, in some cases for the next two-three years. That way, injury management is better, administration, per se, and everybody else has been more tolerant when someone gets injured.

Like Ashish Nehra, who hasn’t been picked for a long time...

In his case, he was unfortunately injured when he was about to play. What I’m referring to in our time is that if at all you are unfortunately injured, it was not seen as something that happens to a sportsperson. You were generally labelled as unfit. There is a huge difference with what happened and what is happening now.

With regards to Ranji Trophy what are the changes you see with respect to crowd involvement and use of technology in the game?

A lot has got to do with the fact that life has changed in the country now. The working culture has changed; you have a lot of options for people to work. In those days, there was a lot of tolerance from employers as well. If you’re saying I’m sneaking in to watch a Ranji Trophy game for one hour, the boss would have said, “Maybe I will also account for it”. But today it’s different. The other thing is, those days even international tours happened maybe about once in a year, or once in two years, at home, which meant the number of cricketing days for the spectators were limited. Today, the quantum of cricket is so much [that] it gets tiring even for a hardcore fan. There are days when you switch on your television, from about 5 o’ clock to midnight, there will be cricket happening in some part of the world. But most importantly, a lot of people follow Ranji Trophy, but they can’t come to the ground as in the earlier times.

Has technology/internet helped in that regard?

Of course. You can keep in touch, as you get tweets, and you get updates in various websites. At least, you’re in touch with the game, even if you’re not present at the ground.

Chances for Tamil Nadu this Ranji season? They’ve started well…

Tamil Nadu will have a good chance because of the central reason that it is a young side, and what has made a significant change is perhaps the mindset, because a couple of guys [have made] it to the India A side. Somebody like Vijay Shankar, if you look at the same period of time last year, if you’d said he’s somebody who’s going to make it to the India A side, they had thought there’s something wrong with you. It has spurred people on, it has given the youngsters something to play for and believe they also can do [it], provided they have a good Ranji season. That is an important factor because you’ve let the majority of the guys in the side feel they have a chance to make it big in cricket, then the team results will come on their own. That is what happened to Karnataka in the last three seasons. And that is what happened to us when we hadd won the Ranji Trophy in the 1988-89 season, because most of the guys felt we had a chance of making it to the top. I think that particular feeling has come in to the side. They will definitely do well, and on the other side of the spectrum, all these guys are playing up and down. This means in the latter part of the Ranji season, the team that really hits the straps then will want to win. It could be any team. Tamil Nadu has got as good a chance as anybody.

Tamil Nadu have done well in the last few years, but they just fall short in the last hurdle. Your thoughts on this?

That is unfortunate, but what happens is that sometimes, I think, the basic problem with the Tamil Nadu side is that you have a lot of guys who are intelligent. Intelligence is not always an advantage. Sometimes what happens is, it perhaps make them active more than rested, be it about their cricket, be it about any badminton match, whatever. Sometimes, intelligence can be a disadvantage; it makes your mind more active than required.

The value of Sportstar in your generation and right now, as a magazine...

It has always been a top sports magazine, there’s no doubt about it. Content, as well as the way it has been presented, the layout, everything, it’s fantastic. It does a lot for people; at least, in the earlier generations, to appear in the magazine. If you’ve appeared there, it meant you’ve definitely arrived somewhere. So, that’s what it meant to us, but today, of course, it is still followed very closely by most of the sportspersons, and it is in no way diminished in terms of value or credibility.