Younger lot: nothing to rave about

Dhawal Kulkarni started off in a fantastic manner in first-class cricket but he seems to have succumbed to the second season bug like many others before him.-K. RAMESH BABU

Team India has a couple of tough Test series at home and it is difficult to see any young batsman really pushing the senior guys.

Sport is generally considered the best medium to bring the worst of adversaries together, but ironically the committees and the people running the various sporting establishments have embarrassed the country in the last few weeks.

The alleged irregularities with regard to the Commonwealth Games and the IPL prior to that have kept the media busy besides providing some lucrative clients for the lawyers. The supposed irregularities have not only dented the reputation of the people who are alleged to have committed them but most importantly the latest CWG scandal has put the entire country in poor light on an international scale.

It is rather sad that sport, which was deemed as the balm that could heal ruptured relations between individuals and countries, has been relegated to an option that can be used to garner enough money for some individuals to advance their retirement plans. The time and effort for the damage control is expensive and there is nothing that one can do about the damage that has already been done. Somewhere down the line, people seemed to have forgotten that prevention is better than cure.

In the meanwhile the show must go on and it becomes imperative that the athletes and sportsmen do not get muddled with the things happening around them. While the athletes have to continue with their preparation for the Common Wealth Games, Team India has to carry on with their campaign in Sri Lanka undeterred by the setbacks brought about by injuries.

The start in the tri-series was rather lukewarm and this can be attributed to the fact that different combinations play different formats of the game but the younger lot needs to realise that consistency is something that has to be achieved.

Of course, the youngsters are looking to give their best but it does seem that they are not preparing themselves well enough. The Kiwis exposed the limitations of the Indian batting line-up and this obviously cannot continue for long. The boys must gear up to the challenges of international cricket, which are notches above what the IPL can offer.

Team India also has a couple of tough Test series at home and it is difficult to see any young batsman really pushing the senior guys. Of course, the time to drop the acclaimed ones is some time away but the fact remains that most of them except Raina have not convinced the selectors to get their succession plan underway.

The young batting line-up needs to take it upon itself to put runs on the board in the one-dayers and with the management sticking to the four-bowler combination, the batsmen have their work cut out.

Here again, the team management has serious issues with the bowling line-up as well and there seems to be no spark emanating from the bench strength. There are some who may be in contention more due to the fact that someone needs to fill the breach but otherwise there have been no stand-out performers who the selectors are over-enthusiastic to pick.

The likes of Dhawal Kulkarni and Yadav have not exactly set the Thames on fire during their recent tour of UK with the ‘A' team which is a worrying factor. Kulkarni started off in a fantastic manner in first-class cricket but he seems to have succumbed to the second season bug like many others before him. It will be interesting to see how he progresses in the near future, as there is everything for him to play for unlike Balaji, who the selectors think, has to improve upon his speed.

The frequent injuries have prompted the players to request the BCCI to revise the schedule but it is dependant on the players as well. In terms of fatigue it is the players who know how much workload they can take and one wonders if they will be keen to sit out during the IPL to preserve themselves for National duty.

The top players might argue that their participation is required during the IPL for the tournament to retain its high profile but at least the leading stars can rest against weaker sides as they did some months ago by not touring Zimbabwe. The quantum of cricket is quite high but more than the quantum, the free time in between international cricket assumes significance because that is when the players can either train or rest depending on the requirements of the individuals.

Going by the recent statements of the support staff of the Indian team, it gives one the impression that the players are not really doing anything to condition themselves. Now if my perception is true it does not reflect well on the youngsters as the future of Indian cricket is looking up to them and as such they have a huge responsibility. I wonder if Anil Kumble, who is set to mentor the young players, can instil commitment in them as that is one commodity, which one either has or does not.