Training camp for over-19 players at NCA
In a new experiment, 20 youngsters across the country will undergo a three-week training camp meant for "over-19" cricketers at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore from July 9. The camp will be a grooming exercise for those who excelled during last year's Cooch Behar Trophy, a domestic championship for Under-19 teams, but are not eligible to compete at the junior level anymore.
"It will be an attempt to help groom players who are promising but who may not break into the Ranji Trophy squads of their respective teams in the coming season," said Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI's general manager - game development. "The fact that they have been consistent all through the last season proves they have it in them to become very good cricketers and if the experiment succeeds, it may continue in the coming seasons."
The concept should be welcomed considering the change in age-group cricket structure last season. The BCCI redesigned the Under-22 tournament to an Under-25 event to give more players opportunities for a call-up to the first-class side rather than getting lost in transition.
Besides helping youngsters, the BCCI will also continue with its recent decision to involve more former cricketers for coaching roles for their off-season camps at the NCA. Shetty said that Deep Dasgupta, Sunil Joshi and Sanjay Bangar - all former Test players - have been appointed coaches for the camp. Kiran More, Venkatesh Prasad, Mukund Parmar and Venkatapathy Raju were invited as coaches for the Under-25 players' camp in Mysore last month, while Narendra Hirwani, Debasis Mohanty and WV Raman were roped in for the Under-19 camp in Bangalore.
"We all are qualified coaches and the camp will present us with another opportunity to pass on our knowledge to so many youngsters," said Dasgupta, adding that he was looking forward to being a part of an innovative concept.
"If you look at last year's World Cup winning Under-19 cricketers, they were stars when they came back from Australia but most of them couldn't even make it to their state sides," he said. "So it becomes tough for some players to deal with, especially at an age where they are supposed to decide whether they would want to pursue cricket as a career option. We should complement the board for deciding to help such players who are quality players but are in danger of getting lost in transition."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo