As the DDCA’s newly elected Sports Working Committee revealed its plans,on Sunday,to better the prospects of cricket,Ranji Trophy selector Bantu Singh raised an issue that the committee seems emphatic to pursue wholeheartedly. At the workshop,which was more of a discussion forum between the press and DDCA officials,the committee took notes of the suggestions that were thrown at them with a view to bring a positive change in its official work.
Bantu Singh,a former Delhi Ranji player and current selector,floated the idea of starting the DDCA Under-14 league parallel to its senior variant,a format that has existed since a very long time.
I proposed this idea thinking about the long term. In Delhi,there are so many kids who want to pursue cricket but generally lack cricket facilities. Even if they get the best coaching in the city,many of them lack knowledge about field positions set in the longer formats of the game. They keep playing in the nets and find it really difficult when they play long matches. So its a step forward towards developing better cricketers for the future of Delhi cricket, says Bantu Singh,while talking to Sportline.
The Delhi veteran,who scored 11 centuries in 69 matches,says the move will nurture the grassroots. In the DDCA league,there are hardly any U-14 players who get a chance to play in the senior circuit. Also,there would not be more than 20 percent of U-16 players making it to the league. In order to develop young cricketers,a two-day cricket format is a must. Players will get to know how to bowl keeping a packed field. Spinners will have an idea of bowling with a short-leg,silly point and slips,and it will help them to get used to the format. Till now,when we sit to select the Ranji team,it is sad to say that we don’t have many options when it comes to spinners. In this city that has 111 clubs and around 50 academies,nothing substantial is coming out. Nowadays,as the game is being reduced to 20 overs,there is no way we can have quality bowlers for the future. That is a major reason young players feel a little uncomfortable going straightaway to play BCCI tournaments, he says.
Singh says such an initiative will not only cater to players but simultaneously raise the quality of coaching. When there is competition,it happens at all levels. The players will be the eventual gainers but at the same time,the coaches will also have to keep augmenting themselves. This league can train players till the age of 15 and once any player gets overage,he is ready for the senior league, says Singh.
A major concern for both the DDCA and the new working committee could be to organise grounds for Bantu Singh’s proposed league. Singh seems to have done his homework and has a plan. Everyone says grounds will be a problem. I tell them that all school grounds can be targeted,since the grounds there are perfect for U-14. DDCA spends a lot on unnecessary things. I am sure paying for the grounds won’t hurt. It will fulfill the need to promote grassroot cricket and help the schools to get sports funds from the DDCA, says Singh.
With more than 1000 cricketers set to appear for the U-14 open trials from August 23,Singh says the selection would be fair had there been a league. (There is) no way it is possible to select quality boys in trials. No one can judge the talent of a player from the nets. Had there been a league,we could have made these boys play long matches and performance would automatically have sieved the numbers. Eventually,you would have the final probables solely based on performance.
I told them that it was pointless to have a month long camp before the BCCI U-14 tournament,Dhruv Pandove Trophy and instead start the league right from April when children get free from their school exams. Those three months of cricket will only prepare them better. Then I can say the team can give you results. I have discussed it at length and tomorrow I will make sure that I discuss it with the senior DDCA officials, says Singh.
While Singh seems enthusiastic about the new plan,the sports working committee is trying hard to make it materialise. I think it is a really good plan to improve the standards of the game. We are hoping that we will be successful in starting the league soon, says SWC convener Dr Ahmed Tamim.