Chairman of selectors and former India wicketkeeper M S K Prasad on Wednesday backed the introduction of neutral venue in domestic cricket after the move drew flak from senior players during the latest Ranji Trophy season.
Towards the end of Ranji Trophy season early this year, India opener Abhinav Mukund and domestic veteran Rajat Bhatia had criticised the concept of neutral venues in domestic cricket. Prasad, however, differed on the subject.
“I am all for it as it challenges the players to the limit. Anyone can play and win at home but with the neutral venues, including the ones in remote areas of the country, you have to get out of your comfort zone and perform,” Prasad told PTI on the sidelines of the Vijay Hazare Trophy quarterfinal between Jharkhand and Vidarbha here.
The implementation of BCCI’s initiative left a lot to be desired with players complaining about scheduling issues and apathy on the part of the host association. To add to that, most matches were played in front of empty stands.
“I don’t agree that people won’t come to watch games at neutral venues. The average Indian cricket fan will travel any distance to watch his or her favourite player in action. There was a lot of crowd in attendance during the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali in Mumbai. So, I feel it is a very good move though I am sure there is room for improvement as far its implementation is concerned,” said Prasad.
Talking about the Indian team, Prasad said he is satisfied with the bench strength the side possesses in all departments.
“A classic example of that would be Karun Nair. He got the opportunity and made it count instantly,” he said about the Karnataka batsman who scored a triple ton in only his third Test.
“There is competition for almost every spot in the playing eleven and that can only be good for the Indian team,” said Prasad who heads a trimmed three-member selection panel post the Lodha Panel recommendations.
The spinners who have recently got into the Indian Test team are Jayant Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav, who is yet to make his debut. But someone who is yet to get a look in is Jharkhand left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, who has not been considered for the national team despite being the highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy for the past two seasons.
“As of now Jaddu (Jadeja) is bowling well but yes he (Nadeem) can be considered in future,” Prasad added.
With the IPL starting next month, the selectors will next meet to pick the Indian team for the Champions Trophy in June.