Batting great Sunil Gavaskar says the presence of the ODI players, named for the upcoming series of New Zealand, in the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals would have enhanced the standard of India’s premier domestic competition.
“Once the schedule is done, the schedule is fixed, the dates can’t change. [But] it would have been fantastic to have the guys, who are in the different teams, play in the quarter-finals.
“If they could have played and left the day the quarter-final finishes… for example, the team is leaving on 11th [January] night/12th morning, the three-four players could have left on 12th night/13th morning because the first match is on the 19th. I know you lose a day going into New Zealand, but it would have still given them enough time,” he said, in Mumbai, on Wednesday.
Uttar Pradesh’s Suresh Raina and Bhuvneshwar Kumar; Mumbai’s Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane; Bengal pacer Mohammed Shami and Karnataka’s Stuart Binny are members of some of the teams playing in the ongoing January 8-12 quarter-finals, but were ruled out as the Indian team is leaving for New Zealand early morning on January 12.
Interestingly, India’s first assignment in New Zealand is the first ODI in Napier on January 19.
“This is India’s number one tournament, and the more competitive it is, the higher the standard and better the feedback for the selection committee to be able to see when the teams are playing the best and against the best. It is always a good indication for the selectors,” Gavaskar added.
UP coach Venkatesh Prasad and former India captain Rahul Dravid were also of the opinion that the players could have turned out for their teams in the quarter-finals.
This is the first time that Gavaskar turned up for commentary in a Ranji Trophy match -- the Mumbai vs Maharashtra quarter-final at the Wankhede stadium for Star Sports.
He believes that the extensive television coverage, now available both in Hindi and English, has helped popularise the sport in smaller cities around India.
“The fact that the coverage of the game has been in various languages is one of the main reasons why we have the Indian team being captained by somebody [Mahendra Singh Dhoni] from a non-metro. The game has spread so much that the guys from the non-metros, who otherwise perhaps would not have been in the forefront, have been able to get into the forefront because of what they have seen. I am pretty certain they have, to some extent, been inspired to take up the game by the media coverage that has taken the game to all the interiors of India,” he said.
Gavaskar believes that one area where Indian domestic cricket is lacking is the result part, as most of the games finish in dull draws. He feels teams must be encouraged to push for results as it will also prepare the players when playing at the international level.
“One area we need to work on is looking to go for outright wins. In Duleep Trophy and all, you find teams score 600 and dismiss the other team for 300 and bat again all the way till the fifth day without going for an outright win. That hurts us at the international level. Just like going from 100 to 200, you have to have the experience, or from 200 to 250, similarly how to win Test matches is also a great deal to do with experience. The more we can encourage teams to go four outright wins, better it is for Indian cricket, because then we will be able to find a way when we get stalled. You would expect to get stalled in Tests; international teams won’t lie down and let you win,” he said.
Gavaskar pointed out that the current Mumbai team, which scraped into the last eight, is going through a transition period and will take time to get settled.
“Suddenly, when you are playing with Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane and they are not there, it makes a big difference. Don’t forget Sachin [Tendulkar] also played the first game. So, to suddenly have three new guys coming in is not an easy thing. That is perhaps one of the reasons Mumbai’s batting has been indifferent this season. But, I guess, as the years go and some of the guys establish themselves and have a permanent place in the side their confidence will also grow. It is a transition period and transition periods are always invariably inconsistent,” he said.
Image: Rohit Sharma