Among the many who are deeply distressed by the failure of Tamil Nadu to qualify for the last eight in the Ranji Trophy championship this year is former Test cricketer V.V. Kumar.
A stalwart with 599 wickets in First Class cricket — he has the distinction of being the first to cross the 300 and 400 milestones in Ranji Trophy (417 wickets in all) — VV is not merely a supporter of State cricket. The contribution of the leg-spinner, an iconic figure in his day, is immeasurable. His brilliant career spanned more than two decades.
Kumar’s anguish at the State team missing the last eight for the second year in succession in the National competition is apparent when he says: “Not many will agree that the TN Ranji side deserves to be blown away at the knock-out stage. It was due to a combination of intriguing factors, despite having a strong batting line-up.”Main factor
Kumar names the bowlers’ inability to deliver as the principal factor.
“Our pace attack was ordinary. The spinners, with apparent technical faults, did not live up to the promise they had shown earlier. They were unable to terminate threatening partnerships. They had, in fact, all types of pitches both away and at home but failed to adjust… they never looked like taking 20 wickets in four days,” he says.
“Slow turning tracks require adjustments in speed and turn while the shirt front wickets require spin, flight and the parabola with subtle variations. The visible factor was that the spinners lacked guile,” he adds.
Kumar sees the skill to create openings as an important component of a spinner’s armoury.
“In a crunch situation, the bowlers have to create openings to exploit and purchase wickets; runs have to be given but not gifted. Planning was rarely seen in such situations. Prasanna, Bedi and Venkat were experts in creating these openings and going for the kill,” he says.
Describing Tamil Nadu’s travails in Ranji Trophy as a forgettable “tale of two seasons”, VV cautions skippers from allowing things to drift.
He urges them to handle spinners with imagination and ingenuity like the famous captains of his time — C.D. Gopinath, A.G. Kripal Singh and S. Venkatraghavan — did.The unwritten code
By the unwritten code for spinners, Kumar says, they should work in tandem complementing each other.
“The drawback is that none of the spinners is aware of the stock ball, the one that should be used to create openings. Variations add to the variety.
“On tracks that do not assist spin the spinners should learn to roll the ball often to get some deviation. The longer version of the game requires enormous skill besides perseverance and thinking. It is never too late to correct these shortcomings. If the bowlers, spinners in particular, apply their mind, the State team can certainly see the light at the end of the tunnel soon.”
Kumar believes that the points put forth should be seen in the right perspective and assimilated when the team gets ready to face the rigours in the next season.