November 3, 2009

Ranji Trophy, 2009-10

Real stars, reality check

Aakash Chopra

Professionalism is what professionals do © Getty Images

Hi guys

The first round of the Ranji Trophy features a lot of big names. Rahul Dravid will turn up for Karnataka against the Mohammad Kaif-led Uttar Pradesh, Zaheer Khan for Mumbai and VVS Laxman for Hyderabad among others. The mere presence of these names makes these matches very important.

Players in their respective teams get a first-hand account of what it takes to be an international cricketer. Dravid, for instance, is invariably the first man to get into the team bus, Laxman is ever so calm before going in to bat, Zaheer and Ashish Nehra spend countless hours working on their core muscles even while their team bats, and so on and so forth.

These guys maintain a very high standard of professionalism regardless of what they are playing and this professionalism rubs off to team-mates and opposition alike. How can you not be punctual when Dravid is on time, how can you not spend more time training when Zaheer is working on his fitness even after a hard day of cricket?

Another thing these guys ensure is that every other player keeps complacency at bay. You want to be at your best to compete against the best. In any case, a youngster wants to go that extra yard to leave an impression on the big guys.

Their showcasing of skills also works as a coaching manual of sorts. I vividly remember watching Laxman score a master-class century in a Duleep Trophy game against North Zone. His sense of timing and balance was a treat. Similarly, watching Zaheer or Nehra make the ball talk is a lesson for every budding pacer.

While some players enthusiastically turn up for their respective states, others find the domestic grind far too gruelling. The facilities on the domestic circuit are not a patch on those provided for internationals or even for the IPL. Some younger guys are quite unhappy about travelling to obscure places by “cattle class” or staying in “not-so-posh” hotels. One such cricketer, whose place is secure in India’s shorter format, made his unhappiness visible to all and sundry when he was told that his team’s next match was on the outskirts of Maharashtra.

Well, this attitude could possibly spur him on to perform exceptionally well and seal his place in Team India in all three formats, but frankly it had a detrimental effect on the rest. After all a first-class team invariably has players who are state greats but possibly never don India colours.

That’s when the presence, however occasional, of a Dravid or a Laxman becomes ever so important to keep things in perspective. It inspires players young and old to stay motivated, and of course helps Generation Next stay grounded.



Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by amar on (December 18, 2009, 14:46 GMT)

Nice blog, Akash! Can you please explain the rules behind the quarter-final line up in the current Ranji trophy season? It does not make sense to me! Thanks. Take care.

Posted by sharath on (November 10, 2009, 6:08 GMT)

Great work Akash.......

Posted by Farhad on (November 7, 2009, 5:02 GMT)

I think India should make an effective search for good bowlers...If they get an urthodox bowler in the team thing will work positively for them in the next world cup. Without improving the bowling part they can expect to be the champion of the 2011 World cup. They have master class batsmen in their side. I think the best bowling combination would be, Zaheer, Nehra, R.P. Singh/Praveen Kumar/Ishant Sharma, Harbhajan Singh.

They can use part time bowlers for the remaining ten overs. Like: Yuvraj, Sehwag, Raina, Tendulkar or Jadeja.

The batting of Jadeja is really questionable...I think Abhishek Nayar could be a perfect contender of the No. 7 spot. On the other hand S. Badirnath/M.Tiwary could also effective in the ODIs for the men in BLUE.

Thats only my suggession for the team as I really love to see India clinching the upcoming World Cup trophy. Thank You.

Posted by Dazed and Confused on (November 5, 2009, 5:36 GMT)

Didn't you write a post a few months back b!tching about the hotel and bus transport in Cuttack? I take that as you making some sort of subtle apology.

Posted by Raas on (November 5, 2009, 4:34 GMT)

Homer, could not agree more with you. Accepting the way things are and conforming to the rules however ridiculous they are is considered 'being humble and grounded' and anything other than that is 'attitude'. So typical of our culture which does not encourage independent thinking !

Posted by Vijay on (November 4, 2009, 18:56 GMT)

contd Why should suffering or going thru hardships be necessary in life if it can be avoided? We as a society look at all hardships that people go thru and sympathize with them but when people ask for an improved life we start saying the attitude is not right, and this and that. How will travelling to obscure venues, staying in cheap hotels with having cheap facilities help a cricketer improve his game? There is no correlation. Just coz someone can stay in such hotels it does not mean his cricket will improve.

Posted by Vijay on (November 4, 2009, 18:51 GMT)

I tend to agree with Homer here. Jay, I think you are not understanding the issue well enough. Consider this: your company asks you to go on tour and puts you up in a local dormitory or a hotel where you can't get a decent night's sleep. Now, if your company was a Lala company, it is understandable that they probably cannot afford it. But, if your company was a decent enough company then would you complain or no? Now, why do you think some other "professional" in a different profession should not complain? If anything, if you are not a sportsman then you could still work the next day at a decent level of productivity without a good night's sleep, but for a sportsman it is essential. Alright the facilities may not be really that bad. But consider this: why should BCCI go and schedule matches in such obscure places? What is the necessity?

Posted by Rahul on (November 4, 2009, 16:43 GMT)

Ha Ha Ha... Homer, Jay great going!! In case you guys want to use your VALUABLE time doing something more substantial, than visit and support a child... Homer, it might solve the budgetary constraints that irk you!! ;) Aakash, on a serious note, great site.

Posted by Jay on (November 4, 2009, 16:38 GMT)

Pasting url(s) doesn't suffice for a good argument. Rest your mind!

Posted by Homer on (November 4, 2009, 16:07 GMT)

If that is attitude, it is a very welcome one..

And here is the Kookaburra reference


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Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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