His peak coinciding with the era of the Indian batting greats, Sridharan Sharath missed an India spot by a short head. The left-hander played for India ‘A’, made runs too, but the door to the national team remained shut for him.

Now, 48, and with 8,700 first-class runs behind him at 51.17, the left-hander from Tamil Nadu has been given an important responsibility. Sharath is now the chairman of the national junior selection panel .

“It’s a privilege and an honour to be given such a key job, I thank the BCCI and the TNCA for showing faith in me,” said Sharath in a conversation with  Sportstar  on Friday.

A shrewd accumulator of runs, particularly in crisis situations with his left-handed, jabs, dabs, cuts, drives, and pulls, Sharath comprehended much about staying put at the crease and battling on. 

He wants to inculcate that fighting spirit in the boys.

Close bond with Rahul Dravid

Actually, Sharath was a part of the India Under-19 team in his younger days. Interestingly, Rahul Dravid was his captain.

He shares a close bond with Dravid with whom Sharath would need to work closely since the legend from Karnataka heads the NCA.

Sharath said, “Rahul is so insightful. He is not just such a great player but has the rare ability to pass on that knowledge to youngsters. It will be wonderful working in close tandem with such a quality cricketer, coach, and a human being.”

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The Tamil Nadu stalwart realises the road ahead could be rough. “You see, we have not had any junior cricket in the last one year because of the pandemic. So we need to set the ball rolling again.”

He is confident there is talent aplenty at the Under-19 level in the country. “We need to spot and harness all of that.”

Sharath added, “India has been doing well at the Under-19 level, making the final of the World Cup last time around.”

The biggest challenge before him was “to produce cricketers who would go on to play Ranji Trophy for the respective States and then progress to represent the country.”

Sharath is looking forward to the exciting days ahead.