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Former India opener; author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season

Who's mentoring India's youngsters?

Test prospects are not getting enough guidance, if you go by recent performances. The talent pool won't keep supplying quality players endlessly

Aakash Chopra

June 12, 2012

Comments: 46 | Text size: A | A

Manish Pandey pulls, Mumbai v Karnataka, Ranji Trophy Elite League, Mumbai, 1st day, November 17, 2011
Manish Pandey: a talented batsman who should have been among India's Test probables by now. Why isn't he? © Fotocorp
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To the first ball Manish Pandey faced, from medium-pacer Deepak Chahar, he walked down the track and played a wild swish, missing by a foot. It was perhaps the first time in my 15 years of first-class cricket that I saw a frontline batsman act so recklessly at the beginning of an important innings. Was it a one-off, I wondered, standing in the slip cordon.

But to our utter disbelief (and delight) Pandey continued to bat like that before getting out for a 17-ball 16 that included four boundaries. This in an Irani Trophy match in Jaipur, played on a greentop with a bit of moisture underneath. It was only the second session of the first day.

The scoreboard gave an impression of perfect batting conditions - 267 for 2 off 56 overs - but they were far from being ideal. The scoring rate was due to a combination of Shikhar Dhawan's excellent batting and Rajasthan's below-par bowling performance. But even if the conditions had been ideal, how would one justify Pandey's approach to building an innings in a five-day match?

It wouldn't have bothered me if it had been any other first-class cricketer or if Pandey's attitude had been an aberration. He had stormed into the limelight after scoring a fine hundred in the IPL played in South Africa in 2009 - the first Indian to reach the milestone in the tournament. He went on to play some useful knocks for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy, including a superb century against Mumbai in the final in Mysore. I also watched as he made a double-century in a Duleep Trophy game against Central Zone. From everything I had seen, he looked a special kid.

Since he had come to light with such promise in 2009 and had also scored runs in the following few first-class seasons (he averages 54 in first-class cricket), why had he never been a serious contender for a place in the Test side? As far as this match went, had he been told about the importance of a game as big as the Irani Trophy? If he was under pressure, why wasn't he made aware of other, more positive ways of dealing with it?

The bigger question is: are we worried about such talents not realising their potential?

This brings me to the case of another immensely talented youngster - Rohit Sharma. In this year's IPL, he played some shots that would leave the best batsmen in the world awestruck. I remember a pull off the front foot, hit off a marginally short-of-length ball, that landed in the second tier of the Wankhede Stadium. Having misread the length, Rohit had already committed to the front foot, but he then shifted his weight onto the back foot and despatched it over the square-leg fielder. Any other batsman would have looked for a single.

It takes nerves of steel to hit a six off the last ball to win a match, like Rohit has done. Unfortunately, he has also been guilty of casually throwing away his wicket on many occasions.

Since Rohit has both the technique and the temperament to succeed at the highest level, has someone tried to address why he hasn't been able to make the Test team so far?

Is there someone mentoring these talented cricketers?

Virat Kohli, despite all his talent, had nearly fallen by the wayside when his interactions with Jacques Kallis and Ray Jennings put his career back on track. While Kohli was smart enough to pull back at the right time, others haven't been as fortunate or intelligent. That's where the role of the parent body - in this case the BCCI - becomes important.

 
 
After the first IPL, the governing council announced that all young cricketers would be expected to go through a mentoring programme at the NCA. How many young cricketers have benefited from that noble programme? None
 

Since India is blessed with a huge numbers of cricketers, the talent keeps coming through. But that shouldn't absolve us of our responsibilities. Once the basic cricket foundation is laid, it's mental ability that separates a good player from a great one. There is an urgent need to address that area of players' development. Once talent is identified, a cricketer must be mentored, so he can grow as a player and as an individual.

If Pandey's or Rohit's career graphs aren't heading north, someone should observe the patterns and plug the holes. If Munaf Patel is sacrificing pace for line and length, somebody should explain his role in Indian cricket's set-up to him. If Cheteshwar Pujara is finding it tough to make a seamless transition into Twenty20 cricket, it's the board's duty to lend the helping hand.

Has anyone bothered to find out why Jaydev Unadkat, a bowler who made his Test debut a year ago, isn't good enough to make it to the India A team anymore? If Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha or Piyush Chawla aren't flighting or turning the ball, the BCCI should ask former spinners like Erapalli Prasanna and Bishan Bedi to help them regain form. The days spent outside the Indian team are the toughest, so it's imperative players are not left to their own devices.

Since the IPL began, I've met many India cricketers who have given up hope of making it back into the national side - and the desire to do so. Instead, they only focus on the annual 45-day T20 extravaganza.

It's because we have the numbers that we look the other way, expecting that the next crop of equally talented cricketers is always around the corner. But what if these players, say the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Parwinder Awana or Dhawan, also decide they are happy playing in the IPL and aren't really keen to make that extra effort to don the Indian colours? Can we really afford to lose quality talent to club cricket?

After the first edition of the IPL, the tournament's governing council announced that all young cricketers would go through a mentoring programme at the National Cricket Academy. How many young cricketers have benefited from that noble programme? None, because the programme is yet to be rolled out. In the wake of spot-fixing scares, black-money transactions and so on, it's even more important for these younger players to be a part of a programme that educates them about the dos and don'ts.

While we happily bask in the glory of producing world-class talent like Kohli and Umesh Yadav, it's advisable to be realistic and accept that the talent is in spite of the system, not because of it.

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   on (June 13, 2012, 15:39 GMT)

The basic problem is money, and easy money at that, coming too early and in torrents to people like Rohit Sharma or an Ishant or even Robin Uthappa. When one has such an abundance of riches in the bank, what difference does it make if one performs only in T20 and forsakes performance in the longer form. Much less strenuous too! Cricketers like Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman are highly motivated and committed too. They came in an era when the primary motivation was to play for India and not in front of the cameras. If one expects that kind of motivation from cricketers such as Rohit or Raina, it's a forlorn hope. However, there should be some kind of incentive to play Tests and even Ranji by raising the compensation levels much higher. Dravid has made several suggestions in his Bradman oration. These are worthy of emulation. Otherwise expect T20 hacks to rule the roost and 3-0, 4-0 and 5-0 performances by India in future.

Posted by Riderstorm on (June 13, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

All this talk about survival of test and ODI cricket in the wake of success of T20 has been irritating to say the least. To my knowledge, any game of sport survives on the level of skill and competition at display which in the game of cricket has been on the decline over the last decade or so. With the advent of T20, it just became fast tracked. Any game of cricket requires talent and fit individuals pitted against equally fit and talented crickets on a pitch that gives everybody to give their best. Has it been happening regularly? No. Every educated cricket lover seems to have a disdain over the masses opinion who follow cricket to see the skill and competition on a pitch, and trivialize his opinion in the name of format or what not. All we need is little austerity on the part of administrators to reduce the work load and careful and interesting scheduling of FTP, administering the pitches to maintain a certain level of competition to keep the interest alive in the game.

Posted by   on (June 13, 2012, 11:21 GMT)

Akash, you have hit the nail on the head with the last line of your article - India has good cricketers in spite of the system, not because of it. Examples - We get really promising fast bowlers. BCCI assigns them to bowling coarch Venkatesh Prasad. The bowlers become medium pace & disappear from sight OR they are called inconsistent & dropped (Sree Santh being one of the inconsistents). Batsmen...well they don't even get a look in till they are close to retirement, like Dilip Doshi a couple of decades back.

Posted by Smithie on (June 13, 2012, 6:52 GMT)

Interesting that in all the comments below the name of Duncan Fletcher is not mentioned once. Surely the national coach has a responsibility to insist the BCCI builds the correct coaching and mentoring structure under him. Where is the evidence that Fletcher has the strategic vision that India requires? What is his working relationship with Srinivasan - that is the key issue that needs uncovering Mr Chopra.

Posted by CricFreak87 on (June 13, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

@ Ravi Darira : Sehwag has excellent averages in Aus, England, Saf, nz and west indies no?? he averages way lesser outside india than he averages in India!! talk about aus where dravid failed!! But don't talk about England where he averages way more than any other indian batsman in the series against arguably the second best bowling attack in the world now!! Technique is not over rated!! never over rated!! Kallis and Dravid are the legends who drive home that point!! I really hope u r right regarding Rohit , Rahane and kohli or else it will all be a kill joy after all the hype surrouunding them. Talking about chances!! don't you think Rohit got enough already??

Posted by   on (June 13, 2012, 2:54 GMT)

A very thought-provoking article. I agree with Aakash that the BCCI needs to identify special talent and have a mentoring programme. As far as the batting is concerned, I can't think of anyone better than Rahul Dravid to do the job, provided he is interested, of course. However, the BCCI can only do so much (i.e., if it chooses to do anything at all, but that is another story). Much of the onus is on the players to make use of the opportunity to get their careers on track. They have to be pro-active. The case in point is Virat Kohli. If the players themselves do not realise what is good for them, nobody can help them. It would be sad to see people like Rohit Sharma go the Vinod Kambli way, for instance. For the sake of Indian cricket, I hope and pray that it does not happen.

Posted by Mr_Anonymous on (June 13, 2012, 2:08 GMT)

Aakash,

Sorry for hogging the comments section but I had to mention that in reality there is some similar thread between this article and Harsha Bhogle's latest column: http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/567624.html

I am a bit bearish on Test Cricket right now. I personally don't think I would want to watch a complete Test match (start to finish) ever again (This is not how I felt 10 years ago). I could catch up on some highlights once in a while or just follow the scores on Cricinfo but I don't get any thrill from "viewing" the entire match (I could watch bits and pieces here and there for an hour or so but not ~25-30 hours for 1 game). Tests seems more of a test of patience than of skill. I think if Test cricket is to survive in the long term (say 25 years or perhaps even 10 years from now), there will need to be changes made to the format. Otherwise, I see them slowly dying out which is unfortunate.

Posted by Ravishankara on (June 12, 2012, 23:56 GMT)

IPL needs stars, both international and national stars to be popular and successful. The domestic tournaments are one of the most important breeding grounds for such stars. If they are ignored, IPL's success in the long run will get affected

Posted by   on (June 12, 2012, 22:08 GMT)

As usual a well written and balance article. One observation though. Somewhere down the line I believe the motivation to excel in the longer version is missing coupled with faster scoring rate achieved by batsmen in longer version is eating into the habit of building an innings.The Duleep trphy match between Central and South Zone was scored at an amazing rate over 5.00 runs an over and come to think, theyounger batsmen an prone to score at extremely rapid rate so building an innings takes back seat. As regards to motivation, when the greats like Rahul, Saurav and VVS started off, they did not have too many greats mentoring them but their committment made them reach greatness which sadly is missing these days.

Posted by SanjivAwesome on (June 12, 2012, 20:10 GMT)

Raina is mercurial at best. Rohit is on his way to oblivion. These guys are not hungry enough and professional enough by international standards. Obviously, they are awesome by BCCI standards!

Posted by   on (June 12, 2012, 17:46 GMT)

You say that these young players arent being mentored for test cricket. Even with the so called "test greats" like Dravid, the "wall", "master technician", where in the world did India win any away test series recently? how often did they even cross 300 in any ininings? Where was Dravid's technique in Australia while he was getting bowled every innings.

These new guys like sharma, kohli, rahane, are way better than the previous generation, give them some time and they will prove you wrong. The whole idea about test cricket and technique is overrated and from 1980's. The way Tests are played today is different and you need a good strike rate in it as well (just look at sehwag, warner, etc.)

Posted by muski on (June 12, 2012, 16:32 GMT)

Well Akash- I would go to the extent of saying that Baptism by fire will help most- like it did Kohi in the test series against the Aussies rather than so called mentoring. When you have reached the stage when you have reached International Cricket, you really dont need mentoring. Guys who are 20 and 21 are level headed now that what was say 20 years ago. They know the money in the game and they know its do or die. A Manish Pandey for example is short of technique. A century in an IPL game does not make a great player. He is the younger version of Robin Uthappa- knows only to play the strokes in the air. Was there anybody to mentor a Dravid or Ganguly or Laxman. The answer is no. The problem that ails Rohit is that he does not think its a do or die. He takes it easy. He does not put a price on his wicket. The day he starts doing that he will join the greats of the game in 10 years time.

Posted by anshu.s on (June 12, 2012, 15:37 GMT)

Atlast Manish Pandey's name has been mentioned,forget about his 100 in the IPL ,it was his knock in Ranji trophy final on a seaming,bouncing,dicey wickets i felt something special about the kid,he was having a good Ranji season last year until an hernia injury curtailed his season.Since then he has struggled and apart from one knock of 80 had a rather forgeteble IPL -5,but dosen't change the fact he is a class act and can serve India well in future.Totally agree with the larger issue raised by Akash regarding the mentoring aspect.

Posted by   on (June 12, 2012, 14:27 GMT)

With the exception of Kohli, Sharma and Raina, the rest of India's youngsters are not that talented and are overated for example Jadeja whose labelled as a all-rounder but his record in bowling and batting is poor but his fielding is pretty decent.

Posted by Mr_Anonymous on (June 12, 2012, 14:11 GMT)

>If Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha or Piyush Chawla aren't flighting or turning the ball, the BCCI should ask former spinners like Erapalli Prasanna and Bishan Bedi to help them regain form.

Aakash, I will disagree with you on this statement. If an unknown talented youngster needed help, then I agree that the BCCI (or NCA) perhaps needs to help bridge the gap between the youngster and the experts/former spinners.

Bhajji, Ojha and Chawla are financially well off and certainly, they can call any or all of the former spinners themselves and ask for advice and work on it. They also have the financial wherewithal to go down to stay with these spinners for a couple of weeks and get help/coaching if they feel they need it. I am sure the former spinners would be VERY happy to help. The onus for seeking that help needs to come from the players though. At that level, the BCCI cannot be responsible for a player's form, confidence and weaknesses. Only the player can be responsible for it.

Posted by AbhijeetC on (June 12, 2012, 14:10 GMT)

NCA in Bangalore...isn't it?..

Posted by Mr_Anonymous on (June 12, 2012, 14:03 GMT)

Aakash, nice article once again and thank you for bringing this issue to light. Is it possible for you to work with the NCA or provide recommendations to the NCA on how the mentoring program could roll out. I believe that you had written up a multi-page document where you provided the BCCI with input on how domestic cricket could be restructured which was considered in the committee meeting. Isn't it possible for you to do the same here? You could start off with the basics in a blog and get feedback if needed.

In some way or another, I think we need to tie the IPL to domestic cricket. One "brainstorming" thought I had was to allow the selection of uncapped players only from the same "zone" as the team. So, MI and PW could only select domestic players from West Zone (for example). This could provide the IPL franchises an incentive to nurture and train young talent in their own zone and perhaps even work co-operatively with other IPL franchises in their zone on this. Food for thought.

Posted by ajay_t_g on (June 12, 2012, 13:26 GMT)

When we are analysing why things are not working now, we should also analyze why things have worked in the past? Not so long ago (10-15 yrs back), India was in a similar situation. India was caught in match fixing scandal, many seniors retired, a lot of unknown players were making their debut and couldn't last for more than 5-10 games. (Remember in this period we had over 10 keepers). It took one man to mentor and develop a team and not just make them good players but make them greats. The new generation superstars developed in this time period included Bhajji, Zaheer, Yuvraj, Sehwag, Laxman, Dhoni etc. Not to mention other youngsters who were backed and performed decently well for India - Kaif, Dinesh Mongia, Nehra etc. All this was possible and a lot of youngsters became superstars because of the mentoring and backing of SAURAV. I don't see that happening from Dhon nowi. He is cool headed doesn't show his emotions etc. But i don't see him nurturing talent and backing them enough

Posted by StatisticsRocks on (June 12, 2012, 13:05 GMT)

Very good article Mr. Akash. I don't disagree one bit that youngsters need mentoring and who better than THE WALL to play the role of a mentor. BCCI should approach Dravid for this role or better yet the youngsters should call upon Dravid. My concern is with your statement of India has many young talents and it is mainly in the batting department and not bowling. What is BCCI planning to do to groom fast bowlers...my guess is nothing.

Posted by RockcityGuy on (June 12, 2012, 12:38 GMT)

Plz Plz give SURYAKUMAR YADAV a chance...he's amazing...not a slogger but timer...throw him into the deep now and he'll come out trumps...:-)

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (June 12, 2012, 12:16 GMT)

Contd The BCCI attitude appears to be that if a player can find out for himself what it takes then they're in with a chance. A related point is that the selectors tend to stick with their big draw players such as Tendulkar and Sehwag who regardless of performance are selected to pull the crowds and now more importantly for them the television sponsors. So players are left wondering what else they have to do to get picked. This is one reason why players are choosing IPL because they are guaranteed income that can change their and families lives whilst there is very little opportunity at test level.

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (June 12, 2012, 12:15 GMT)

Aakash, one of the reasons is that it takes of lot hard intelligent work in both mentoring by the coach and learning by the player to understand what has gone wrong and why and then to identify and take the appropriate steps. The 'babu' culture in India prevents the BCCI from seeking support from past players. The BCCI sees cricket as a business first and like any business it wants to make its money in the quickest and easiest way which is not to invest in remedial action for players who have lost their way or indeed not even found it but to wait for the next crop of players to come through.

Posted by AjayB on (June 12, 2012, 12:06 GMT)

As always - extremely thoughtful and very well presented. Someone like Dravid (depends on his availability and degree of interest) should perhaps take on the role of mentoring such talents. I can almost see Akash himself volunteering/salivating for the role (feel free to correct me if I am wrong). But BCCI has to ask first?

Posted by thewayitwass on (June 12, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

Aakash Chopra averages 44 (not to mention 23 in tests..) in a land where so many average 55+ due to the flat nature of the surfaces, I mean Mukund averages 56 and couldn't buy a run in engand.. So i find it quite strange and somewhat ridiculous to see him banging out articles about helping young batsman and what is ailing them and how to help them etc, no matter how articulate and insightful may

Posted by Bruisers on (June 12, 2012, 10:56 GMT)

India needs to have a 'B' team with players like Pandey, Tanmay Srivastava, Mandeep Singh, Uday Kaul, Suryakumar Yadav, Iqbal Abdulla, Pankaj Singh, Jaydev Unadkat, Abhimanyu Mithun etc. And this team should regularly play against the 'A' team which has the likes of Pujara, Tiwary, Dhawan etc. The level and intensity of cricket here will be far higher than Ranji or Duleep Trophy matches and players should perform for these teams in order to get a national callup. Players are getting picked on basis of their IPL or Ranji performances which is not the right scale to measure their talent.

Posted by SylvesterClifford on (June 12, 2012, 10:05 GMT)

Very well said Aakash. Its high time the officials decide on the mentoring part of these young talents. Especially when India has got players with excellent caliber in the likes of Rohit, Rahane, Tiwary, Pujara and so on. Of these youngsters though I think Rohit is the most talented but Pujara is likely to take a spot in the Test squad. Rohit & Rahane or even Tiwary has the talent, no doubt, but the temperament at the highest level(Tests), is not seen. It is due to the lack of proper guidance. The same was the case with even Robin Uthappa, a highly talented guy but has been inconsitent. Now is the right time for all these young guns to be at their best and be prepared. Ganguly's spot is being shuffled between Yuvraj, Raina and now Kohli. Dravid has stepped down.Thats an opening. While all these openings are there, what if these youngsters are not ready. If these are ready the transition happens so smoothly that it wouldn't affect the balance of the team. Same case with the bowling too.

Posted by SpyderOnNet on (June 12, 2012, 9:01 GMT)

Most of us would agree that young talented indian cricketers need mentoring (mental/physical conditioning). Well, it seems like identifying and mentoring players on regular basis is too much of adminstration problem for BCCI on regular basis. Anyway, it is too much to ask BCCI solve all cricketing problems in the country by themseleves. It is like asking government to provide everything without citizens taking any commitment to improve. I see there is a big business opportunity for ex-test cricketers to open some sort of C-School consulting firm to improve young talented cricketers and make money from BCCI in exchange for players (if selected to play in national team) or through advertisements. Or IPL clubs should to extend mentoring opportunity with their overseas supporting staff during non-IPL seasons. In exchange, clubs can recurit players without auction (or some sort of reward).

Posted by   on (June 12, 2012, 8:54 GMT)

Very good subject ,it should be an eye opener for budding cricketers , officials, coaches , and even followers. Every sincere follower of Indian cricket must agree with Akash here.

Posted by Philippe on (June 12, 2012, 8:38 GMT)

Very nice article.. Additionally I think few senior players in Test side should also keep moving & calls it a day as soon as possible.. The likes of Laxman should pave a way for these youngsters.. plus sachin tendulkar who has seemed to lost his touch after good world cup for him.. He should also go.. otherwise it would be more difficult for young players to make it to test team & then perform in a very short span of time..

Posted by Er-.S.R.shankar on (June 12, 2012, 8:31 GMT)

Akash You have focussed rightly on 'Attitude' required irrespective of skills. Certainly IPl does not inculcate this trait to be invested for the longer version. Current A tour to west Indies has proved that IPl performace is poor index. If more youngsters are to figure in Test cricket they not only need more A tours to face fast bowling but also capable managers[like Sandip patil,Anshuman Gaekwad , Rahul Dravid and off course Akash Chopra] to metnor them technically and tempermentally. Questions should also be asked how many chances were provided for players with right balance, technique and temperment like Badrinath, Pujara etc

Posted by annys on (June 12, 2012, 7:52 GMT)

superb article AKASH CHOPRA :) . i have stopped reading articles on cricket of late but an article by a guy who stood his ground and fought fire with fire against the world class Aussie pacers in their home conditions and one who inspired his team to Ranji trophy title cannot be ignored :).Akash dont be surprised if one Rahul gandhi is named in India Test squad, with rajeev shukla around anything is possible :))

Posted by kalaiselvan on (June 12, 2012, 7:48 GMT)

good article bu Aakash, really nece one

Posted by OnlyKaps on (June 12, 2012, 7:14 GMT)

Aakash,

Well said. A talent nurturing system where talent once spotted is mentored in close supervision for at least 3-4 years is needed, Whereupon they move up to the national side and national coach if they live upto promise or fade away ( if they dont make the most of talent and opportunity and guidance ) .

Posted by Captain_Crick on (June 12, 2012, 6:26 GMT)

Good insights. Also it would be great if there could be a similar article for nurturing and grooming fast bowlers in India keeping the mind the next world cup in Australia. The likes of Pankaj Singh, Dinda, Umesh, Aaron, Awana and Ishant Sharma (once fit) should be in the scheme of things and be given more exposure in the coming months. Zaheer is not expected to be 100% fit for ODI and also Praveen would not be suited to Australian conditions.

Posted by KS72 on (June 12, 2012, 6:13 GMT)

Fabulous article Akash.....I so wish the BCCI took a leaf out of the ECB development programme....I have had the fortune of being in one of their centres at loughborough personally! Superb facility...great mentoring with people like Graham Thorpe and Kevin Shine involved with the juniors. The tragic part is ove the last 20 years I have seen so many talented players from India go un-nurtured,and it is going to continue....I played cricket in India for 15 years just below the first class level, and then came to the UK and played good standard club cricket in the north west and south for 10 years......I am physically the same player I was 10 years ago but boy have I changed mentally.....the professionalism, the attitude......literally relearnt to play cricket all over again....BETWEEN THE EARS!..guess thats what rohit sharma, manish pandey and the hundreds of other super talented youngsters in india needs....

Posted by rvenkat on (June 12, 2012, 6:02 GMT)

1/2 First things first.Yet another nice article Aakash.I'm becoming a fan of your writing.

Coming to the issue.This has been the case with our cricket set up for a long long time.I'm particularly impressed since you have taken the case of Manish Pandey and Rohit in this article.Manish and Rohit are those guys, who if step up, could replace Laxman and Sachin resp in our test line up.Such is the talent these guys have and its always a treat to watch him them full form.

Coming to the mentoring part.I always believe Mentoring is an art.Its about showing these players the right direction,which can be different for different players,essentially based on the mental make up of the player.And nobody knows which direction is the right one for the particular player.Take the case of Virat Kohli.Do you think Gary Kirsten would not have guided him when he made his debut for India.Why did he particularly click under Ray Jennings and Jacques Kallis?

Posted by ultimatewarrior on (June 12, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

I think this BCCI Policy for not to provide mentoring or testing pitches to youngsters and many other such things will soon show ill effects on performances of new players in IPL soon and later in India's performance at International Level....

Posted by a.jalan on (June 12, 2012, 5:29 GMT)

Congrats Aakash. your articles and thoughts are the most inciteful and honest amongst all Indian cricket writers. God speed to you and may your talents get recognised and used for the benefit of Indian cricket.

Posted by Dubious on (June 12, 2012, 5:12 GMT)

It was curious watching Umesh Yadav and James Pattinson in the most recent test series between Australia and India. Both of comparable raw talent, but it was clear Pattinson had received and was continuing to receive the guidance that your article extols. And just look at the difference. Pattinson performed above and beyond Yadav, who was too often impatient and seemed to lack the support and encouragement of his team mates.

Posted by   on (June 12, 2012, 5:09 GMT)

Superb article... All the team india aspirants must read this

Posted by   on (June 12, 2012, 5:06 GMT)

Completely agree Aakash. However, the players themselves also need to take some initiative. Kohli is a shining example of hard work and dedication, and young players need to 'seek out' mentors if they don't already have any assigned to them. It's not enough to just blame the problem on the BCCI - like a large corporate body in business, they are not likely to fix anything that is not completely broken. Kohli and Yadav coming through the ranks allows them to believe that it is still possible to come through the current system. Clearly the problem needs to be addressed from both ends, but players taking the first step definately seems easier and quicker than the BCCI putting in a formal (and probably frought with red tape) infrastructure .

Posted by contrast_swing on (June 12, 2012, 5:03 GMT)

Really Akash, you also think that IPL has become the standard. No matter what you do in an IPL match, how many score, in the end you only shown potential to bat 20 overs. Test matches are not won based on 20 over 'cameos' in most cases. If you are looking for good test players then stop watching IPL for the right talent.

Posted by   on (June 12, 2012, 4:46 GMT)

It is as if we let the fish into the water and let them swim without being guided in any way. It is a waste of talent and opportunity for youngsters.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (June 12, 2012, 4:45 GMT)

IS THE PITCH IN PICTURE IS REALLY A JAIPUR PITCH ? I DON'T THINK SO . IT HAS GREEN COVERING ON IT WHICH I NEVER SAW ON A JAIPUR PITCH .

Posted by   on (June 12, 2012, 3:27 GMT)

Very nice Aakash. However I would say board's role should be much larger than just mentoring players who are a step away from the national set up. Indian cricket requires a complete talent management setup at all levels.

1. Managing and mentoring players as they come thruough the under 14 levels onwards

2. Making sure that they are mentally ready for the fame /adulation/money that follows

3. Counselling them on meny management

4. identifying leadership qualities or orther special talent and making sure that these talents are given special attention. this will also create a incentivised process while coming through the ranks

5. Work shops for the coaches in the various academies around the country for the mental, physical and technique side of things

6. Certification programs for coaches physios etc.

We have a lot of talent however it will all go down the drain without a holistic management approach.

Posted by sneeky55 on (June 12, 2012, 3:03 GMT)

Another great article, Aakash. Mentoring our young players is crucial. Perhaps, if the board could give advice to people such as Pujara to not play the IPL if he struggles to adapt to T20s, it would be beneficial. Let him concentrate on the longer formats and become a star like Dravid.

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Aakash ChopraClose
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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