India news February 1, 2010

India struggling to find quality spinners - Laxman

Cricinfo staff

VVS Laxman, the Indian batsman, has expressed concern over the lack of quality spinners on India's domestic circuit, a problem he feels will be a "worrying factor" for the Indian team. Speaking on Cricinfo's latest video show Opening Up, Laxman was more optimistic about India's batting reserves and was bullish on the survival of Test cricket.

However, his comments on India's spin talent pool will cause concern, given how large spinners loom in India's Test legend. Speaking on the gap between international and domestic cricket in India, Laxman said: "The Indian cricket team is struggling to find some quality spinners, apart from the guys who are playing. You will find that there is no bench strength as far as spinners are concerned. So definitely the quality of domestic cricket has come down in terms of the bowling department."

Later, speaking about young talent, Laxman repeated his concern. "I am really not happy with the bowlers I am seeing. I think the quality of bowlers, especially the spinners will definitely be a worrying factor for the Indian team."

Laxman was optimistic, however, about India's talent in batting, the likes of Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, who've had international experience, and Ambati Rayudu of Hyderabad. But he emphasised the key to success lay in the ability to play long innings. "I think Rohit and Raina are very good. Ambati Rayadu from Hyderabad has got very good potential," he said. "It's good that he has come back now, after playing in the ICL. It's just a matter of time; if he plays to his potential then he will make it to the higher grade. Rahul Dravid keeps mentioning about some players from Bangalore who are very talented. So it is a good future for India, as far as batting is concerned.

"I think for any youngster, you have to practice right from the younger days to [play a] long innings. And that's something that I don't see nowadays in the Ranji Trophy. I don't see too many double-hundreds, too many big hundreds. When we started off, there were lot of double-hundreds, not only from the Test cricketers but also domestic cricketers. I would definitely advice them to play long innings in the four-day format. And once they have the temperament, they can adapt to any form of the game."

Amid the growing popularity of the Twenty20 format, Laxman said Test cricket still remained the most sought-after version in the eyes of the players and dismissed any threats over its future. He added that the current generation of cricketers still rated Tests as the best determinant of one's quality. Instead, he expressed doubt over the survival of the 50-over version with the advent of Twenty20 cricket.

"Test cricket is still a very important form of cricket for all cricketers," Laxman said. "Even though Tests are becoming fewer, all cricketers, even the present generation, want to play more Tests. Everyone knows Test cricket remains the real test of a player's character, skill and temperament.

"Irrespective of how many runs they get in Twenty20 or one-day cricket, everyone feels that only when they do well in Tests will they have a stature in the game. Everyone knows that their ultimate reputation is in Test cricket."

The dwindling interest in 50-over cricket among fans and players alike, Laxman said, was an issue of concern. "I think one-day cricket will be under threat, because people want to watch good quality of cricket," he said. "Over five days they will watch some quality players playing against each other, so definitely Test cricket will stay. But one-day cricket will be under pressure, especially after the advent of Twenty20. I am sure ICC will take necessary steps to make it more interesting."