The secret behind Mumbai's mass production of quality batsmen
Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Rohit Sharma, Ravi Shastri, Ajinkya Rahane, Polly Umrigar, Ajit Wadekar, Vijay Merchant, Dilip Vengsarkar... the list is never ending. Over the years, Mumbai has produced some of the most revered batsmen in the sport of cricket.
The constant influx of quality batsmen from the city has bewildered quite a few pundits and many wonder what actually makes Mumbai a mass producer of such indigenous talents.
Following a similar line of thought, Sportskeeda caught up with Mumbai under-23 coach Amit Pagnis on the sidelines of Kalpathi-AGS Buchi Babu All-India tournament and tried to decipher what makes the Ranji giants a force to reckon with.
When quizzed whether there's a modus operandi which the coaches follow when approaching a budding batsman, Pagnis stressed that there is no fixed method and shed some light on what is considered as the most crucial tourney, through which players, especially the batsmen, learn the tricks and trade of playing at the highest level.
"There is no particular method of training, the important thing is that there is a niche structure in Mumbai where we play three-day games of the Times Shield tournament, the most important tournament in Mumbai."
The Times Shield, which is Asia's longest running and the biggest corporate tournament, was first played in 1930. Since then it has seen tremendous growth and has acted as the cultivating ground of an incalculable number of up and coming talents.
However, Pagnis, who represented India in the 1998 U-19 World Cup, was quick to add that the tournament doesn't act as a 'selection trial tournament' but is a platform for the youngsters to express themselves in front of the watchful eyes of MCA selectors.
"I won't term it exclusively as a selection trial tournament, but it is kind of that only. Then there is the 75-75 over tournament, one and a half day games, which allows the batsmen to play long and crafty innings. This is what I feel is the secret (behind the fact that Mumbai produces a plethora of great batsmen)."
The 40-year-old further underlined the importance of having a structure which can help the youngsters prepare themselves for the rigours of Ranji Trophy.
"The structure is very important. There are lots of tournaments all over India but three-day games of Times Shield before the Ranji Trophy help the batsmen get good match practice so that they can apply themselves and play big innings on a bigger stage."
The fact that the coach of Mumbai's under 23-team highlighted the importance of local tournaments, such as the Times Shield, gives us an insight into the work that's been put in to make Mumbai Cricket an efficient machine of producing batting prodigies.