Coaching talent

CHANDRAKANT PANDIT. He gave Maharashtra some direction.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

We will hear more about the 18-year-old off-spinner MOHNISH PARMAR.

Indian cricket is spreading fast in the districts, and that is never more clear than when one reads the names of the players selected for the Under-19 World Cup. The metros are no longer dominant. Though the selectors have chosen a couple of extremely overaged players, by and large the team is full of promise and tremendous talent.

You really can't blame the selectors for those overaged players. Small mercy that they at least haven't picked a `15-year-old' cricketer who has been playing for a state in under-22 for the past couple of years. Despite the fact that the BCCI is putting all the players through various age verification tests, this player manages to pass all these medical tests.

Some former cricketers who are totally cut off from the ground realities keep harping that we don't have spinners. I have been watching leg spinner Piyush Chawla, who bowled Tendulkar with a sharp googly during the Challengers, and left-arm spinner Shabaz Nadeem of Bokaro for three years. They are promising.

Now we will also get to hear more about the 18-year-old off spinner from Ahmedabad, Mohnish Parmar, who is a photocopy of Muralitharan. He has been picking up not less than 60-70 wickets every year, but selectors were worried that his action would invite trouble. Yes, according to Anshuman Gaekwad, who is the consultant to Gujarat Cricket Association, Parmar, while bowling the doosra, was chest on. But he made the bowler practise that delivery with a side on action and that worked.

Parmar's control is such that he refuses to bowl with long on and long off, and he bowls his doosra with tremendous accuracy. Two years back, Chief TRDO Ashok Mankad wrote to the NCA to have a look at Parmar. Kiran More has also said he offered Parmar the chance to play for Baroda if he wasn't getting selected for Gujarat. However, Gaekwad explained that Parmar couldn't be picked for the Ranji Trophy as he was the main bowler for Gujarat's Under-19 and Under-22 teams. Don't be surprised if Kiran More and company make him play the warm-up game against England who are due to tour India in February/March.

DARREN HOLDER. A dismal failure as the coach of Maharashtra.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

One observation that Chandrakant Pandit and Paras Mhambrey — both former Mumbai captains — made is that there is no dearth of talent in the districts, but what the players there lack is guidance.

Pandit coaches Maharashtra and Mhambrey is with Bengal. Mhambrey said, "I played under Shastri, Manjrekar and Tendulkar. I learned how to analyse and read the game. If international players turn up for their respective states, players from those teams will definitely benefit. The opposition too will be able to learn how these internationals play."

Pandit agrees with Mhambrey. "During the time that I was playing with Ashok Mankad in the Mafatlal team, I was observing his every move. The way he was handling seniors and juniors in the team. This helped me a lot when I became coach," he said.

With the passionate and extremely studious Venkatesh Prasad as the coach of the India junior team, one should expect good results.

PARAS MHAMBREY The Bengal coach learnt a lot from his seniors.-V. GANESAN

Speaking of coaches, we do have very good men like Pandit, Sandhu, Prasad and Mhambrey. The Maharashtra Cricket Association must be repenting having spent a huge sum in getting Australian club-cricketer Darren Holder. He is good at biomechanics. Period. To entrust him with the responsibility of improving cricket in Maharashtra was a blunder.

Have you heard of a team of 13 and not 15 playing a four-day game? Who is going to bowl in the nets? Who will replace injured players? Maharashtra did badly till Pandit stepped in and helped them win the Cooch-Behar Trophy for the first time. He also helped Maharashtra's Ranji team to beat Mumbai outright after 52 years.

Punjab certainly gained with the experience of Inthikab Alam, and one can understand the logic in bringing in a former first class player from abroad, captain or not, and if he has been successful both as captain and coach, all the better. Inthikab Alam is a former Pakistan captain and he was also the coach of Pakistan during their 1992 World Cup victory. But Holder has no first class experience as a player, he has none as coach either. We mustn't get carried away by the foreign tag. The West Indies board too realised the mistake it made in carelessly getting these theoreticians from Australia. That's the point not only Bobby Simpson made, but even a gentleman cricketer like Andy Roberts felt provoked into asking why Holder had been invited by the West Indies Cricket Board when he wasn't keen on developing cricket in the Caribbean.

And the Maharashtra Cricket Association, blissfully ignorant of this mess, repeated the blunder. The irony is that neither Inthikab Alam nor Chandrakant Pandit, both of whom are more experienced and producing far better results than Holder, are being paid as much as the Australian is. We need to get over our `foreigner as a different species' complex — in both its positive and negative aspects — and start looking only at the qualifications.

ANSHUMAN GAEKWAD. He put the young Parmar back on track.-VINO JOHN

The BCCI will be disbursing huge amounts to all the associations and there is going to be a large number of foreign coaches coming to India. Frank Tyson, Bobby Simpson and Dennis Lillee are cricketers of stature. They have contributed a lot to the growth of Indian cricket, but if associations, instead, begin to spend money on getting Indian cricket `Holderised', we will have problems unearthing talent.

In fact, it will not be a bad idea to have the NCA involved in interviewing foreign coaches if any association is looking for a foreign coach. Sunil Gavaskar is unlikely to be impressed with a foreigner sitting across the desk with a blank resume. And if the news of the NCA not inviting any foreigner other than Frank Tyson for conducting the two Level II courses in April is true, then the committee needs to be complimented.

It's time we make use of our trained coaches and not get carried away by the bizarre thinking and senseless ideas (masquerading as `innovativeness') of some foreign `coaches' who would never get hired for the position in their own countries.