Just days after packing off its Ranji coach Sujith Somasunder, the Kerala Cricket Association sent out a strong signal that should keep its players on their toes.

“We have decided to bring in professional players for the Ranji Trophy,” T.C. Mathew, the KCA President said after the association’s Central Council meeting at the Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

“We need a spinner-all-rounder, an all-rounder captain and a solid opener. Earlier, when we had qualified for the main phase, our opening used to be strong but now it is not so,” Mathew said.

The KCA has also decided to give its Director of Cricket, former India wicketkeeper Chandrakant Pandit, a bigger role in running the sport in Kerala, including the selection of coaches for the various State teams.

“We have asked Chandrakant Pandit to look for a professional coach for the next Ranji season.

“We are also going for professional coaches (from outside the State) in all the categories. And for all the State teams, all cricketing decisions, including selection of coaches, will be taken by Pandit, our director of cricket,” said Mathew.

However Pandit, who coached Mumbai to the Ranji Trophy triumph a few years ago, will not be the coach of the Kerala Ranji team.

“We cannot have Pandit as the Ranji coach because he has a lot of responsibilities here. He is bringing in a lot of changes and he has got a lot of ideas, and all youngsters in our new Centre of Excellence (in Kochi) will come under his watchful eyes. So, he cannot spare time for the State teams.

“But if he wants to go with the Ranji team next season, he can go,” said Mathew.

Despite Pandit being given such a huge responsibility, Mathew added that it would not be a one-man show.

“It will not be a dictator style of working; as a cricket director he will put up his proposals to the board and we will take the decision. He will come with the ideas,” Mathew said.

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