Three Indian juniors to visit Australian academy
Three of Indian cricket's junior stars will begin a six-week stint at Australia's renowned Centre of Excellence next week as part of the annual Border-Gavaskar scholarship. Vikram Rajvir Singh and Rudra Pratap Singh, both medium-pacers who played in the Under-19 World Cup in 2004, and Cheteshwar Pujara, the opener from Gujarat who impressed in the series against England Under-19, have been selected for the scholarship by a Board of Control for Cricket in India panel headed by Sunil Gavaskar, the former Indian captain.
Vikram Singh had a promising start to his first-class career last season and made his mark for Punjab with 30 wickets in six first-class matches. Though just 20, he sent down some fiery spells and slowly emerged as one of the fastest bowlers in the country. Rudra Pratap Singh, who relies more on swing and accuracy, also had an impressive season, ending with 34 wickets in six games. Unlike these two, Pujara hasn't yet made his first-class debut but he came to the spotlight with a fine 211 against the England Under-19 side. Now in its sixth year, the scholarships have been formative in the careers of several Indian Test cricketers like Mohammad Kaif, Shiv Sunder Das, Parthiv Patel, Lakshimiphathy Balaji and Gautam Gambir.
During their stay at the Brisbane-based academy from June 20 to July 31 the players will receive specialist coaching and development support from some of Australia's leading academy coaching staff headed by Tim Nielsen, the head coach. They will also participate in an emerging players tournament next month involving the New Zealand Cricket Academy, Australian Institute of Sport scholars and players from Karnataka.
Trevor Robertson, the academy director, said the scholarships offered the young cricketers a tremendous opportunity to broaden their playing and personal experience. "Since the Border-Gavaskar scholarship was launched, we have seen a number of promising Indian players visit Australia to participate in some of our coaching programs and gain valuable experience under foreign playing conditions," Robertson said in a Cricket Australia statement. "It's a tremendous opportunity for the players and the three young Indian cricketers have been earmarked in their country as players of the future for India. The experience they will gain while at the Centre of Excellence will hopefully help their growth on a personal and playing level. Australia and India share a passion for cricket and we are pleased that through the Australia-India Council, we are able to provide an opportunity to host these talented cricketers."
The scholarship program was founded in 2000 as a joint initiative between Cricket Australia and the Australia-India Council (AIC). The scholarships are financially supported by the AIC, which was established in 1992 to strengthen and foster ties between Australia and India across a range of sectors, including sport. The Border-Gavaskar scholarship, named in honour of cricketing legends Allan Border and Sunil Gavaskar, is also supported by the Indian board.
Previous Border-Gavaskar scholarship recipients
Mohammad Kaif, Sridaran Sriram, Shiv Sunder Das
Deepak Chougule, Vinayak Mane, Parthiv Patel
Lakshimiphathy Balaji, Gautam Gambir, Thilak Naidu
Raiphi Vincent Gomez, Udit Brijesh Patel, Siddharth Trivedi
Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Yalaka Venugopala Rao.