Ideas to make it creative

No team will select a wicketkeeper as a super-sub unless there is somebody of M. S. Dhoni's calibre. So more Dhonis will crop up at the junior level.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

THE recommendations of the experts in the ICC's cricket committee to make one-day cricket more unpredictable and interesting seem to have been accepted even by the connoisseurs of the game. Now that the concept of pyjama cricket has been accepted, you have to keep thinking about how to make it more creative and that's what the ICC did.

The power-play and super-sub concept is making the entire team think on and off the field. A few weeks back at the Mumbai's MIG Cricket Club, coach Kiran Mokashi, a former Mumbai off spinner, decided to play a Sunday game with these new rules and suddenly one saw not only the players on the field coming up with suggestions but normally relaxed reserves too were busy planning.

Sometime in 2002, I was watching the Under-17 inter-academy match between Shimoga and Mangalore at Bhadrawati, birth place of G. R. Vishwanath. One old man walked up to me and whispered, "Can you not do something for those young reserves who are dejected? When football and hockey allow reserves to play, what is so special about cricket? Why can't we introduce participation of reserves at the junior level?"

When both the coaches agreed, I got reserves in and one of them scored a superb century. The other, a bowler, picked four crucial wickets. The important point was the reserves were accepted by their team-mates. That's what should happen in a team game. One wonders whether, at the ICC level, anyone really cares for junior cricket.

One has to put oneself in the position of a 15-year-old boy coming to the ground with enthusiasm only to be told that for the next three days he will only be sitting in the pavilion. Yes, it would be mockery of rules if all the reserves are allowed to play but why not have the new experimental rules of super-sub introduced in the inter-state junior tournaments?

At the MIG, majority of the players were teenagers and one point that a 16-year-old cricketer made was why announce the name of the super-sub before the toss? Would it not add to the suspense if the opposition doesn't know which player in the reserve is chosen as the super-sub? And why restrict this rule to only limited-overs matches? Surely one additional teenager can upset the planning of any opposition as was seen at the Bhadrawati match.

More all-rounders will emerge and no batsman will laze off after his turn. He will try and bowl but this rule may affect the wicketkeepers. Why would any team select a wicketkeeper as a super-sub unless he is like Dhoni? So we may see more Dhonis in junior cricket.

Sanjay Bangar was right while observing that injury will affect performance.-VINO JOHN

All these aspects concerning junior cricket ought to have been discussed in the Junior Cricket Committee of the BCCI last month. But instead they approved the weight of the bat. Now this report about the advantages of lighter bat had been submitted to the NCA by former Test player Parthasarathi Sharma in May 2004 and was reportedly discussed in the Technical Committee.

So casual is the approach to junior cricket in India that some of the members of the Junior Cricket Committee, having lost power in their associations, are still in the committee. They went on to approve the weight of the bat for junior cricket without realising that it's not practical. They ought to have enquired with the bat manufacturers why lighter bats are not easily available in the sports shops. For them it's a business. They are there to cater to the market demands and not educate batsmen.

The Junior Cricket Committee meeting was followed by the Programme and Fixtures Committee which sensibly shifted the Duleep Trophy tournament to November instead of playing in February. In the Duleep Trophy tournament, all the top 75 out of 400-odd first class players will take part at the start of the season and a consistent performer can make the national selectors think. It was a sheer waste of time and energy to make them play at the end of the season.

One is not too sure that playing the Ranji Trophy tournament without any break will help players play to their maximum potential. As thinking cricketer Sanjay Bangar observed, players will have to play with injuries and that will affect the team performance. A rest for a fortnight between the league and the knock-out rounds would help players recover.

Usually there is always resistance to change in the BCCI, but in the past few years there has been no parent sports body in the country that has been receptive to suggestions as much as the BCCI which is spending crores on junior cricket and India `A' tours. All the sponsors line up for the senior team but not spend a penny for the junior or India `A' tours. Now that Greg Chappell is based in Bangalore, the BCCI must set up a biomechnical laboratory on the lines of the one in Australia. That is not an optional choice; it is the need of the hour.