Rohan Gavaskar: 'Northeast teams should develop home-grown talent'

The former India cricketer says it will take five years for them to be ready for the next level.

Rohan Gavaskar represented Bengal in the Ranji Trophy — he has 6938 first class runs at 44.19 from 117 matches — and would love to see cricket in the North East blossom.   -  MOHAMMED YOUSUF

The Ranji Trophy will feature nine new sides this season, including six from the North East. The incoming North Eastern sides, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim, will bring their own flavour to the competition.

Rohan Gavaskar represented Bengal in the Ranji Trophy — he has 6938 first class runs at 44.19 from 117 matches — and would love to see cricket in the North East blossom. He, however, drives home the point that football is the first love in those parts.

Football is first love

A stakeholder in Pune FC in the I-League before exiting the franchise, Rohan told Sportstar on Thursday, “There is enormous footballing talent in North East. It produces the best footballers in the country and there is a great passion for the game there.”

The former India left-hander added, “When a kid starts playing in North East, his first inclination is to kick the ball. That comes to him naturally. To change at least some of that to cricket will take time, it won’t be easy.”

Some promising cricketers did emerge from Assam, a State that has been around in Ranji Trophy for a long time now.

The 42-year-old Rohan said, “A few good pace bowlers have have come through from Assam. Abu Nechim, who played for Mumbai Indians, is one of them. The other I can remember is Sujay Tarafdar.”

But then, States like Assam have also relied rather heavily on outstation players in the Ranji Trophy. Rohan noted, “I think there should be a balance there. Outstation players bring expertise with them but along with that the focus should be on developing home-grown talent.”

The six new North Eastern teams, along with Bihar, Puducherry and Uttarakhand have been bunched together in the Plate group.

These sides will not have to compete with the stronger sides straightaway. And the Plate winner will be promoted to one of the three Elite groups.

Rohan said, “That way they will be able to compete. Elite will be very tough for them. It will take at least five years for them to be ready for the next level.”