The IPL’s many stakeholders are gradually being pressed into action with the auction set to be held on February 12 and 13.
Talent-scouting remains a critical component of assembling a team. Paras Mhambrey, assistant coach of the Mumbai Indians, was present at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium for the Tamil Nadu-Rajasthan Ranji Trophy game on Tuesday for precisely that reason.
Mhambrey spoke to The Hindu on the role of a scout, nurturing talent, and Sachin Tendulkar’s position at MI.
How do you go about scouting for talent?
Robin Singh (assistant coach), Rahul Sanghvi (manager) and I handle most of the talent-scouting in India. We keep travelling around the country and watch as many First Class and under-19 games as we can.
There’s focus on observing teams that we don’t get to watch much.
At MI, we are familiar with teams in the South and West zones. We haven’t watched much of Rajasthan. That’s why I am here.
Once you spot a potential talent, what’s the next step?
We don’t get in touch with these players directly. The management decides which players should be invited to the camps we conduct. We had 20-25 players in last year’s camp at Vadodara.
You assess everyone before making a decision.
Is being a selector an added advantage?
They are two different roles. As a Mumbai selector, my job pertains to a particular region while we are talking about the whole country in the case of the IPL. But it’s the eye for talent that matters.
How much say do scouts have in player-acquisition?
My inputs will be there at the auction. But the final call belongs to the management. We have got many good people around. (Chief mentor) Anil (Kumble) is so experienced, and there’s John Wright (head coach), too.
My job is to put across names to Sanghvi, who takes things forward.
How do you ward off competition when more than one team is vying for the same cricketer?
It’s player-oriented, really. Quite often, a player wants to be with a particular franchise.
The way you treat the players matters a lot. MI’s owners are very passionate about the team and the individuals.
Who are the ones you are proud of as an investment in talent?
Ambati Rayudu has been brilliant. We have watched him progress at every stage. Saurabh Tiwary is another guy who’s done well.
These two have put in a lot of hard-work. It’s been very satisfying working with them.
Who are the players MI is looking to buy this year?
It’s an open auction now, so we really don’t know who’s going to come. We are going in with an open mind.
Lastly, what’s going to be Tendulkar’s role at MI?
I am not sure, but he will definitely play a role. It depends on what he and the management want.
The owners are extremely fond of him. His mere presence will make a world of a difference.