It is the birthright of every Indian cricket fan to hold the selector responsible for any debacle suffered by the national cricket team. It always seems that the selectors are more to blame for the fact that the team played poorly than the players themselves.
The first question in such a scenario is why was a certain player chosen and why was a certain player not chosen. Every Indian cricket fan worth his salt can say that he will pick a better team than what was chosen by the selectors and quite often when you hear them you have to marvel at their judgment.
However, criticizing selectors is not my intention over here. The main thing is that there has to be a proper system put in place that is satisfactory for all involved including the fans. The general strategy in India, and for that matter in most of the second tier teams, is to pick a talented player and blood him straight in the national team.
Well, in my opinion, such a step is always fraught with risk as a poor performance can destroy the lad’s confidence for good. This is where a properly graded structure can come into play.
The step up, or rather the process of preparing the player for international cricket, has to start from the academy level. India already has the National Cricket Academy, located in Bengaluru.
This is where the young guns, who are performing well in domestic cricket have to be taken in and prepared on hard and bouncy wickets, which is where international games are played. Mind you this is applicable for both bowlers and batsmen.
The NCA can be the place where techniques are honed, minds are sharpened and the player becomes ready for the next level. If any cricketer is unable to perform, they need to be sent back to their state teams and encouraged to perform well and try and make a comeback. The remaining players need to be shortlisted for ‘A team’ duties.
In my blog post yesterday, I had argued about the need for arranging regular ‘A team’ trips. India already plays as a regular participant in the Emerging Players Tournament in Australia, which is an annual fixture. This is a positive step indeed but I would also like the team accompanying the senior team as a shadow squad on their overseas tours especially in countries like South Africa, Australia, England, New Zealand and also the West Indies.
This will help the team get some much needed exposure and feel an integral part of the whole set up. In case India does not have an overseas trip in a year, the team can be sent to any of the above mentioned countries for some matches with their ‘A teams’.
The next step is pretty simple. If a player is unable to perform well in the national team you ask that person to sweat it out for the ‘A team’ and replace him with someone from the ‘A team’. For a player who has already represented the national team, this will be a major challenge and he will be highly motivated to get his spot back and this will only be good news for the concerned team.
If the player is unable to be perform in the ‘A team’ , they should not be chucked out altogether as is the wont of selectors around the world, who are always looking to usher in the new era. The player needs to be sent to the NCA so that he can work on his game and find his way back up again.
The important thing is that the player needs to be kept in the loop so that they do not lose their way and the early promise does not wither away. It is important that they are assured that they are part of the system and every bit as important as the person who took their place.
Quite often with the right support any athlete can exceed expectations and do unbelievable stuff for his or her team. That watering has to go on so that the plant can become a full-fledged tree.