Cricket

Problems of power game

Former Indian offspinner Rajesh Chauhan (left) and former Kerala Ranji star J.K. Mahendra Photo: By Author   | Photo Credit: Stan Rayan

For all those clamouring for the blood of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman after the disastrous tours of England and Australia, Rajesh Chauhan has a little message. “You may not see players like them again,” says the former Indian off-spinner. “In future, you may not see players who have lasted as long as they do.”

Chauhan, a part of the Indian spin trio of the 1990s along with Anil Kumble and Venkatapathy Raju, feels that Twenty20 has made cricket a power game now. It has also cut down the number of years a player stays in the top league by many years. The power game is hurting Indian cricket in a big way and misguiding juniors too.

The 45-year-old was in Kochi, and played a veterans match against the Tripunithura Cricket Club, as part of the Bhilai Steel Plant cricket team's silver jubilee celebrations. For Chauhan it was his debut veterans circuit and for the Bhilai men, who were appointed to the BSP team 25 years ago, it was a happy reunion.

Lucky mascot

Chauhan is a mascot the Indian team would have loved to carry during their recent tours. He has a unique record in Tests. India has not lost any of the 21 Tests he had played between 1993 and 1998.

Twenty20, which has taken glamorous forms and brought players riches beyond their wildest dreams, has played havoc with cricketers' playing style.

“These days, players have become so tuned to Twenty20 that they can't play Test cricket,” he says.

“The way things are going, within five years, we will not have players for the longer version. Then you will need another 10 years to again build a set of cricketers for Tests and another five years to build the team.”

The current trend is also distracting youngsters in a big way.

“The new generation doesn't love the game. They don't think about the basics or the quality of the game. They are not even interested to play in the Ranji Trophy,” says Chauhan, who played along with some of the greats, including Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev.

In a hurry

“They are only worried about how soon they will get into the team. It doesn't matter whether they are in under-19 or under-22…that is the biggest minus factor of the young generation. That is why we are not getting quality cricketers. That is why they are not surviving for the long term.”

He felt youngsters don't give enough time to cricket.

“You need to give at least four to five hours every day, how many cricketers will do that these days. They only want the glamour that comes with the game; they want colourful kits, colourful clothes, beautiful shoes, expensive bags, goggles. Cricket is a hard game but our youngsters don't want to take the pain.”

The solution would be to groom the new generation in Test cricket. “My advice to juniors, don't go to 20-20.”

Another problem area in Indian cricket is that the country lacks quality spinners. And there are no promising heads showing up.

Is instant cricket forcing them to drop spin?

“I would say the present bunch of youngsters don't know how to flight the ball…don't know the basics. If you want to flight, there are the basics, you have to use the air, your body, your fingers. They don't know about all these.

“And they don't want to practice. I used to bowl ten batsmen at the nets, the junior cricketers now just bowl to four persons now.”

Cricket appears to be a thriving business these days. But Chauhan appears to be different. His cricket academy in Chattisgarh takes in poor children who pay just Rs. 100.

The former Indian star feels a good centralised academy with long-term plans and a good bunch of coaches could be a big help to lift the gloom in Indian cricket in the long run.

“And don't allow players till 19 to play competitive cricket. After some time, feed them to different States. That could change the scene,” he said.

Chauhan went through a painful phase once when suspicions were raised over his bowling. Though he had never been called, a mysterious ICC videotape saw him being ignored by selectors for almost two years. Later, it was found that it had been shot from a wrong angle and he was allowed to play for the country.”

Time has healed the pain; he is not sour about it now.

“May be that was my destiny,” he says.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 8:55:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/problems-of-power-game/article2970492.ece

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