Rahul Dravid has warned against exposure to too much age-group cricket, calling it "dangerous" to the development of a player. Dravid, currently in charge of India Under-19 and the A team, said the decision to limit participation of players to just one Under-19 World Cup was made keeping this in mind.
Prithvi Shaw, the 17-year-old Mumbai batsman, was recently not picked for the Under-19 Asia Cup and released to play in the Ranji Trophy, which the selectors felt would be more beneficial to his growth as a player. Many other players who were part of the youth series in England are currently involved in the Under-19 domestic one-day competition.
"When I took over the U-19 coach, one of the things I felt was that people stay on and play too much of U-19 cricket, which I think is very dangerous so we took a decision of not allowing anyone to play more than one World Cup," Dravid said in New Delhi on Tuesday.
As a direct consequence, five players from the last World Cup who were eligible for the next edition in New Zealand in January, won't be returning. "Guys like Washington Sundar, Zeeshan Ansari and Mahipal Lomror have all been picked in their respective Ranji Trophy teams. Even the state associations are looking ahead and not forcing them to keep playing in U-19," Dravid said. "Their mindset and horizon are increasing. I think age-group cricket has a purpose to solve but it is a limited purpose and from then on you have to play men's cricket."
Dravid also underlined the importance of the feeder system through the 'A' route. Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant are two recent beneficiaries. Iyer, in fact, has been prolific for India A, racking up tall scores against South Africa A and New Zealand A, and has subsequently earned his maiden call-up to the T20I side.
"A lot of these young guys are being given opportunities," Dravid said. "Their performances are being recognised by the selectors. We are having more A team matches to bridge that gap between domestic cricket and international cricket. Hence a lot of these youngsters are performing and doing well. We have already seen four of our boys from the team have got into the national side, which is a great thing. But sometimes it is hard to break into such a successful team (like the present Indian squad) and they need to wait for their opportunities."