Former Indian cricketer WV Raman disagrees with the decision to include Shafali Verma in India’s U-19 World Cup squad.
Addressing the selection on his weekly show, Wednesdays with WV, Raman said while he understood the merits of bringing in players with experience, he would have ‘personally not pumped for the move.’
“(Shafali) is a very clever girl. In terms of cricket, she’s always thinking about how she can become better. She’s keen on working on her skills. Along those lines, there’s no problem at all. But the very concept of getting her to captain the U-19 side can be looked at in two ways. One, they wanted to bring someone who can inspire others because it can be an overwhelming experience for the young girls making their debut in the World Cup. Given this is the inaugural edition as well, there will be plenty of nerves and anticipation. So the thinking would have been that you would need someone to calm the nerves and be a mature influence on the time. Shafali may be under 19, but she is a mature presence given she has plenty of experience and has played a lot of cricket.”
“On a personal note, I don’t think I am an advocate of making a player play on a lesser level. Shafali has played a lot of international cricket, and moving her down to the U-19 level; I don’t see it as a great move because in these cases, players can be harmed in a certain way. If you’re used to playing international cricket and working towards keeping your competitive edge, you need to stay there. There’s no point in trying to get someone to play a lesser quality in terms of cricket.”
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Raman added that this was not to say the quality of cricket was lower in the U-19 level but believed there was the risk of complacency from senior players coming down to age group cricket.
“On a mental level, it could be a huge challenge for her because it’s all up to her as to how she approaches it and what kind of impact she wants to make because she may tend to take it lightly and think it’s a walk in the park which it might not be. It’ll be a challenge to see how she handles the responsibility as she’s going be the cynosure of all eyes because she’s made a huge impact in international cricket,” he said.
The players, who have made the U-19 team, have played the Challenger series and a T20 series against New Zealand in the run-up to the inaugural edition of the World Cup in South Africa in January 2023. Shafali and Richa Ghosh, set to feature in the T20I series against Australia, will miss the last game and join the U-19 camp in Bengaluru before the team flies out to South Africa.
“Fitting in won’t be a problem. What could pose a challenge is, if you don’t see a few players play and have to take a few calls, how are you going to do it? That will be the biggest challenge for Shafali and Richa. You will have to go by someone else’s words - maybe the manager, coach, or whoever is assisting the U-19 side. The challenge is for these two as they have come down quite a few notches to handle the side and the expectations coming with them,” he added.