Local cricket in Odisha needs to improve, says Rashmi Parida

Rashmi Ranjan Parida, the Odisha head coach, admits “flaws in the system” have hampered the State’s cricket.

Rashmi Ranjan Parida: “Identifying a bunch of talented boys and nurturing them [is] the key.”   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Rashmi Ranjan Parida, the Odisha head coach, is a domestic stalwart with a decorated first-class career, having won two back-to-back Ranji Trophy titles with Rajasthan in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

He featured in 139 first-class matches for Odisha, Rajasthan, Assam, Vidarbha and Himachal Pradesh, scoring 8,317 runs at an average of 42.21 including 51 fifties and 16 hundreds.

On the sidelines of the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Parida expressed his views about cricket in his home State, the Indian domestic setup, and more, in a chat with Sportstar.

Q. Except for Shiv Sunder Das, Debasish Mohanty and Sanjay Raul, there is very little that Odisha has offered to Indian cricket. Why is that?

A. It’s the flaws in the system that are to blame. The standard of local cricket in Odisha needs to improve. There’s no such thing as pre-season tournaments here at the moment which hampers the preparation of our players; you can’t go straight into the Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare and start winning. The preparations for the next season should ideally start five months in advance.

Why has the Odisha team not been able to perform well in the domestic tournaments?

There’s talent coming through the U-19 and U-23 levels but these guys need to be given some sort of assurance that no matter how they perform, they’ll keep their place in the squad for a certain number of matches. Chopping and changing don’t help. We have left-arm spinner Pappu Roy and Rajesh Mohanty, who if groomed properly can achieve great success.

Identifying a bunch of talented boys and nurturing them [is] the key. To be honest, we played well in Syed Mushtaq [Ali Trophy] but not well enough to qualify for the knockouts. Two of my in-form batsmen Subranshu Senapati and Sandeep Pattnaik got injured at the wrong time, so that affected our chances as well.

How has first-class cricket in India changed since your playing days?

I would say the temperament of the players is different now. The aggressive mindset, at some point, affects a player’s ability to graft. Cheteshwar Pujara is an exception, of course, while Virat Kohli is on a whole new level.

Bright future ahead: The likes of Pappu Roy (in picture, front) and Rajesh Mohanty can have successful careers if groomed properly, feels Parida. Photo: Biswaranjan Rout

 

But by and large I feel during my era, we used to focus on timing the ball and spending time on the crease. I don’t see that happening a lot now.

The star cricketers, whenever they get a break from international commitments, must play at least a few domestic matches. That way not only will they help draw the crowd but also inspire other youngsters in their respective State sides. Having said that, players today feature in three different formats and the workload has increased since I last played.

Do you comply with the decision to introduce nine new teams in first-class cricket?

I feel we shouldn’t have rushed into introducing them in first-class cricket straightaway. They are not ready for the challenge yet, so even if you beat them what’s the point of such a victory?