November 2, 2007

Pre season

Win to win

R Ashwin
WV Raman, S Badrinath and Dinesh Karthik discuss something at Tamil Nadu nets on the ve of their match against Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu v Maharashtra, Ranji Trophy Super League, 1st round, Chennai, November 2, 2007
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The first game of the Ranji Trophy is always big for any team, but for us at Tamil Nadu, the season has already been under way for a while. We've played in the Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup and the KSCA Diamond Jubilee Tournament. I'm not sure how it is for teams playing in Central Zone or North Zone, but for us here in the South, especially Tamil Nadu, we've already been playing together for a while.

In the last season this wasn't the case, as we had some seniors in the side and they didn't always play the warm-up tournaments. But this year we have a completely young side. The addition of Badri [S Badrinath] and Dinesh [Karthik] has been a boost for us: it's always good to get cricketers of that quality back in your side.

There's been some talk about the change in the points system, but it doesn't make that much of a difference. Simply because I believe only outright wins should fetch points. You cannot judge a team accurately on the basis of the first-innings leads they have secured. Giving a point to a team that has not conceded an outright win is not that great an idea. When an outright result cannot be reached, the points should be shared between the two teams.

Having said that, Tamil Nadu only won one game outright last season, and it was not the greatest position to be in, having to worry about being relegated to the Plate League. But it wasn't just us. Even champions Mumbai had failed to score a point in their first three games. It's all about the mindset. One victory can change the course of the entire season. For us it was that game against Baroda in which we pulled off an extraordinary win. Almost all the guys who are playing now were part of that team, and I think we would look back at that game at the start of this season.

In a four-day game you have to be extremely focussed on all four days to pull of a win. That's why I again come back to the points system and say it's not the greatest.

Playing with two divisions has its advantages and disadvantages. In one way it's good that all the best players are playing against each other. But it's not that great because good players playing the Plate League don't get the recognition they deserve. Putting all the weaker teams in one group does not help them much. Players in those teams will benefit only when they play against better cricketers. If it's mixed, zone-wise like before, that might benefit the good cricketers who play for the weaker teams.

For me, personally, the last season, my first, was a very important one. Tamil Nadu were experimenting with a few spinners and I'm quite happy that I was part of a side that made some positive strides. Bringing in youngsters was a major priority for Tamil Nadu.

Having done that we got some results. I won't say we did very well, but doing well enough to stay in the Super League, given that we were building a young side, was very important for most of our cricketers.

This season is even more important for me because it gives me a chance to look at things from a new perspective. Firstly, it gives me a chance to build on what I have done in the last season. Also the second season is often tougher in some ways than the first, as there is pressure to deliver if you've succeeded in the first season.

Another dimension that plays a part is the Indian Cricket League (ICL). This has put many state teams on hold. Maharashtra are playing ten new cricketers, Hyderabad have a lot of fresh faces. Many experienced domestic cricketers have gone to the ICL, which gives a chance for talented young cricketers to come to the fore. It's bound to happen that some of these youngsters will perform and establish themselves. From the BCCI's point of view it's not a great move, but inadvertently it's given the youngsters a good platform.

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Posted by Rathnavel on (November 21, 2007, 12:37 GMT)

I agree with you on the points system, Ashwin. I think it is criminal to present points based on first-innings lead.

All the Best to TN. Hope you get better this time. The one mystery I am never able to solve in TN is how people who play one season are not found for the next two seasons. Then when you forgot them, they come back. Nonetheless, it is great to see Ramkumar back in the side. I think you both should forge a good combination. Whatever happened to Jesuraj and MR Shrinivas?

On an ending note, it is irritating to see the third last pages of Hindu when a match is going on. Your all-round performance though bring cheers. The entire batting order is due and I find Srinivasan attractive.

Posted by Karthik on (November 14, 2007, 11:59 GMT)

Hi Aswhin

All the best dude! I hope this season TN can bring the Ranji Cup to Chennai. all the best for the match against Mumbai tomorow.. hope to stay in touch with u

Posted by Er.S.R. SHANKAR on (November 13, 2007, 15:58 GMT)

Hi Ashwin! Good start with the ball again and bat too But we are disappointed to see TamilNadu fritter away valuable points against an inexperienced Maharashtra side mainly because of lack of balance in bowling attack. If two spinners are not played[Vidut could supplement with his batting like you] I am afraid the miseries of last season would cast their shadows again. Don't you think you would be worn out soon if you share so much load. Never mind;continue your good work with intense focus in every match; a place in Zone propelling you to National team is not far away;Best wishes for the entire team in coming matches

Posted by prabhu on (November 8, 2007, 14:11 GMT)

Hi Ashwin, all the best for you and TN Cricket Team. Can anybody answer my question? Why are most of the players in the TN cricket team from Chennai city? There are so many young cricketers in the districts all over Tamil Nadu far better than current players of TN team. Why is the team selection favourable towards the city guys?

Posted by Prasanna on (November 7, 2007, 18:35 GMT)

The only time I ever bowled with a new ball I got spanked for five boundaries in a row in an intra school match at PSBB and that bloke is now an off-spinner enjoying good success for TN! Good Luck Ashwin and I hope you will also get a chance to showcase your awesome batting! Nice insightful post!!

Posted by Sriram on (November 6, 2007, 13:02 GMT)

Hi Ashwin!!Nice article. My wishes and prayers for you to repeat your last season's heroics. Saw u bat today to save TN from conceding first innings lead. You played really well and showed excelelnt temperament. COngratulations on your handsome half-century. R.Srinivasan also played very well and you guys saved the match. Hope the 20 yr drought of Ranji trophy ends this season. All the best. Cheers.

Posted by Sanjeev V R on (November 4, 2007, 11:27 GMT)

Nice article ashwin.Hope to see you in national colours soon.Good luck to you and your team.

Posted by ANBU SELVAN on (November 4, 2007, 10:37 GMT)

To join JEYARAM"S question,the strength of the TN league cricket is overvalued strength and talent wise!it is the best league in terms of MONEY,infrastructure and facilities.For that the administrators should be credited.But professionalism in its truest sense is missing.They think money given and received makes it professional!!how novicical?!They need to realise to compete above the local levels of competition and to think on a larger and longer scale alone can make us professional;not the monetary benefits.Sadly cricket in TN is played with shorter perspectives, with no long term planning in place.Anyways,things are improving,one would think.

Posted by Venkat Intel on (November 4, 2007, 8:52 GMT)

Hi Ashwin, first of all a good article and wish u a good luck for this season. I wish you carry on from where you left last season. I strongly agree with your idea that only outright wins should fetch points and points should not be given for first innings lead. Coming to the Tamil Nadu side, I think there is talent, but there is no balance in the team. It's the matter of selecting the right men and persisting with them. Chopping and changing will not work. As Tamil Nadu play all their league matches at home, and considering that the wickets here start to produce a large amount of turn at least from the second afternoon, I think there should be two specialist spinners or even three in some cases. But as i write this, i see only you (Ashwin) playing as the only specialist spinner in the team with three seamers. What is the use in playing three seamers on a typical Chepauk wicket that starts to turn and bounce a lot from day three? We need a left-arm spinner or a legspinner who takes the ball away from a right-hander, bowling in tandem with you. And i see Vasudevadas doing the part time duties with his leg spinners and eventually picking up a wicket. Had there been another specialist spinner things would have been different. And i do not see quality in the medium pacers as well. Yo Mahesh is not in best of form and Amarnath is a new comer. Jesuraj is missed and so is Balaji and TamilKumaran. Vijay, Anirudha and R.Prasanna did well in the top order last season and hope they continue their good work. Karthik and Badri at 4 and 5 respectively followed by Vasu and Srinivasan makes the batting really strong and settled as well. R. Satish is another player we are bound to miss due to ICL. As Dinesh Karthik is doubling up as a keeper batsman,instead of that 7th batsman, we can play a extra spinner. And next is the weather factor. As this is monsoon season in Chennai, the matches are bound to be shortened due to rain. This makes the task much difficult for us. But there is no point in worrying about the factors which are beyond our control. There is no point in just bringing new faces now and then. Its the team selection(the right balance) that matters a lot;selecting the right men and backing them. This is one of the area where TN didnt do well last season. Hope it doesnt happen this time around as well... All the Best guys..Play tough cricket and rest will fall in place.Cheers!! Good Initiative by CRICINFO

Posted by Jeyaram on (November 4, 2007, 5:31 GMT)

This might be a deviated question from the Ranji season 2007-08.But why do you think despite having the strongest divisional cricket leagues in the country, we still struggle to go all the way?

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