Expert opinion - Opening up

Akash Chopra feels the best way to groom youngsters is by organizing more India ‘A’ tours.

Thursday, June 03, 2021
Our focus on age-group cricket is unhealthy

Did India's loss to Zimbabwe hurt you? While a few people might argue that it didn't matter because it wasn't our full-strength side, the rest are bound to feel a little deflated. Wonder why we didn't field our best side? The reasons are simple. There's a gruelling international season ahead and this is the only possible window to rest our key players. Fair enough!

But are the viewers too demanding in expecting India to win all the time? While it isn't possible to win on every occasion, the least a fan can expect, and a team can do is give itself the best chance to win. After all, the spectators are the real stakeholders of the game.

It is unreasonable to expect a 'B' team to win every single outing. The focus should be on testing and watching the younger brigade at the highest level, especially the ones who've proved their mettle in domestic cricket and IPL.

With two consecutive World T20 debacles, we know that even performances in the IPL aren't the best yardstick to judge a player.

So, what's the best way to know whether a player is ready for the highest level or not? 

The answer to this puzzle is to have more India 'A' tours. And we have to go only so far as Sri Lanka for inspiration. Sri Lanka is a small country with an even smaller cricket-playing population and their domestic structure is not even half as good as ours. Despite such limitations, the reason for their success is their 'A' team structure.

Unlike India, who have a completely new team every time, the nucleus of their 'A' side remains the same for a reasonable period.

Like Lanka, we have also managed to send a few 'A' team tours in the last decade and the results have been encouraging. But the frequency of these tours is getting reduced.

It is time to move from our obsession with age-group cricket to some serious cricket.

The emphasis on age-group cricket is only encouraging players to forge their age and give us false hope that our youngsters truly are, the best in the world.

HT Content & Syndication Services