Rajasthan has done it again. When it won the Ranji Trophy last season, it was considered a fluke. But now by winning it convincingly against Tamil Nadu, it showed that success does not only need meticulous planning but also execution with geometrical precision.
When Sanjay Dixit, the enterprising Secretary of the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA), inducted professionals in the team last season, there was a murmur that the team wouldn't benefit from these old players.
However, Rajasthan came up from the Plate division and beat Elite teams in the knock-out to win the Ranji championship last season. Moreover this year, it overcame the danger of relegating to Plate and won the Ranji final beating a strong Tamil Nadu in its den.
The professional trio — Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Akash Chopra and Rashmi Parida — have loads of experience but the most admirable part is the way they used their experience in doing their job, especially considering the terrible political scenario in the association. They put high price on their performance.
The reason why these professionals were discarded by their respective associations needn't be investigated. Quite a few associations suffer from this ‘likes and dislikes' syndrome. One would think that after Rajasthan's consecutive triumphs in the Ranji Trophy, such associations would realise the importance of experience in the tackling of situations. Time and again, it has been proved by these players that experience can't be bought in a market.
Staying at the wicket
Akash Chopra's ‘stay at the wicket and runs will come' policy seems to have rubbed on his opening partner Vineet Saxena who batted for 15 hours in the final.
The importance of professional experience can be seen in the case of Kanitkar who thanks Frank Tyson for changing his approach to the game when he was a 16-year-old in 1991. “Frank sir helped me to trust my game and gave me confidence to hit over the infield. That advice at a young age was very vital.”
Later, Kanitkar played more cricket on the maidaans of Mumbai which made him strategically sound, shrewd and ruthless. Kanitakar's brilliant marshalling of his resources without aggressive gesticulations is reminiscent of the captaincy of Mumbai's Manohar Hardikar who played in the sixties.
The professionals certainly did what they were paid for. However, if we really want to make use of the experience of such professionals, the BCCI must induct them in the Plate division teams where experience is clearly lacking. Vidharbha too was averse to using professionals but this season the experience of Sairaj Bahutule, Hemang Badani and S.S. Das came handy to its team.
When professionals are used in Elite teams, the locals have to sit out. The very fact that the team is in the Elite means that they have good players. Then what is the point in putting professionals in these teams? Moreover the professionals play only the BCCI tournaments and that does not improve the standard of local cricketers.
The RCA may be concerned about winning the tournament but once these professionals of Rajasthan quit cricket, the team will struggle.
There are many ways of improving the standard of Ranji Trophy but the key lies in involving professionals in the State cricket academies. Their involvement will go a long way in nurturing and cultivating talented youngsters.