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ACA eyes rural talent

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Sports The ACA regional residential academies at Vizianagaram, Mangalagiri and Kadapa are nearing completion

Former ACA Director (cricket operations) M.S.K. Prasad.Photo. Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar
Former ACA Director (cricket operations) M.S.K. Prasad.Photo. Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar

Former India stumper and Andhra Cricket Association (ACA) Director (Cricketing Operations) M.S.K. Prasad is pleased with the performance of ACA teams in the current season and gives special credit to juniors and women for their exemplary show. The season saw Andhra women under-16 and 19 teams topping the South Zone along with boys’ under-16 and under-14 teams, clinching the first place in the South Zone.

“Our efforts have begun to pay dividends this season. Our under-25 boys’ team has qualified for the Elite Group and the Ranji team emerged as joint toppers of Group ‘C’. We failed to make it to the next stage in Ranji Trophy as Jharkhand vanquished us in run quotient,” says Prasad.

The ACA has lent a professional touch by roping in foreign coaches in Maria Fahey (for women’s team) and Kaushik Patel (for Ranji) both from New Zealand.

The ACA’s grandiose plan to set up three regional residential academies is nearing completion and in all probability, they will start functioning from this academic year at Vizianagram, Mangalairi and Kadapa to cater to the cricketing needs of the three zones.

“Around 40 players in the under-14, 16 and 19 age groups will get coaching at each academy along with free education. We have already tied up with colleges, schools and the ACA will take care of all their needs”.

“The three academies will also cater to the need of Andhra first class players who are willing to train during their spare time. We are chalking out week-end tournaments to help players get the match experience. In three years we can see the desired results from these boys,” says Prasad, who played six Tests and 17 one-day internationals (ODIs) for India.

He says the Mangalagiri Academy would be headed by NCA Level ‘C’ J. Krishna Rao while Kadapa and Vizianagaram would be monitored by Apoorva Desai and Thompson respectively.

“The ACA is also entering a MoU with local clubs in all three zones for use of their swimming pools”.

Keen to bolster the sport among rural areas, the ACA is in the process of setting up 50 rural centers in tie-up with universities. “We are inviting former cricketers and physical education teachers to take up coaching assignments in rural areas. Soon the selection process will take place in the respective universities. We have nearly 35 coaches in 13 districts and we want to enrol 100 coaches to get close to the talent in the hinterland of villages.”

Prasad also feels the need for modifying the wickets especially in the coastal region. “The wickets made of black soil suit the dry and barren Rayalaseema areas. For the coastal region red soil is suitable. In the recent curators’ meeting headed by B.J.J. Raju, we decided to lay red soil wickets in the coastal areas”, he explains.

Prasad says the players’ complex at the Mangalagiri stadium will be ready by April and the indoor stadium coming up will be the first-of-its kind in the country. “The indoor stadium is build with polycarbonate sheets which will give abundant natural light. We can save power”, he says.

J.R. Shridharan

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