'Players could have left for NZ after quarterfinals' - Dravid
Rahul Dravid has said that the BCCI could have allowed the India ODI players who are part of teams in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals to leave for the New Zealand tour a day or two after their team-mates.
Suresh Raina, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (both UP), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane (both Mumbai), Mohammed Shami (Bengal) and Stuart Binny (Karnataka) will leave for New Zealand with the rest of the India squad on January 12, and miss their Ranji quarterfinals, which are scheduled from January 8 to 12. The first ODI, in Napier, is on January 19.
"I think there was a good opportunity to [let the six players play the quarterfinals], because even after the 12th, there are almost seven days before the first one-day match starts on the 19th," Dravid told ESPNcricinfo. "I guess there was a good opportunity to do that, and it's only six players, so maybe these six players could have left a day or two late … I'm sure the Ranji Trophy teams and the coaches would have been very happy to have some of these boys play."
Venkatesh Prasad, the UP coach, had criticised the BCCI's decision, and had specifically taken the case of Bhuvneshwar, whose last competitive match was the first ODI in South Africa on December 5, more than a month ago. Asked to assess the case on a player-by-player basis, Dravid said Bhuvneshwar could have definitely done with match practice.
"If I was Bhuvneshwar Kumar I would definitely have wanted to play, because he's not played a lot of match cricket," Dravid said. "He's probably bowled a lot in the nets over the last month, month-and-a-half, but he hasn't played a lot of cricket, so I would have really been chomping on the bit to have a game.
"From other people's perspective, someone like a Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane, who've been through a tough Test series, they might have been the ones wanting a bit of a break, but they're both probably young kids and from their perspective would have probably wanted to see Mumbai in the semifinals as well. It'll be interesting to see what the players' perspective on this would have been, but I would think, in my past experience, if there is such a big gap in between the last game and the start of the tour, most guys actually don't mind playing the game."
Having the six India players playing the quarterfinals, Dravid added, would have raised the profile of the Ranji Trophy.
"You have a Rohit Sharma, an Ajinkya Rahane playing for Mumbai, there's no doubt that a lot more people suddenly get tuned to the game, they watch the game, if it's live on TV and you're switching the channels and you see a Sharma batting, you're probably going to hang around there and watch it, a little bit more, so it does raise the profile of the competition, it does tell you that the competition is extremely serious and we value it," he said. "I'm not saying that the BCCI doesn't value it, I think they do value the Ranji Trophy, I've seen some really good things happen with the Ranji Trophy, but I'm just saying that there was an opportunity here to maybe let these guys play some cricket and there were only the six of them."