Why India should ensure they don’t go the Sri Lankan way of failing to groom youngsters
”Never ever tinker with a settled and winning combination.” It’s a mantra, which is prevalent among most teams across the globe. It’s deemed to be a risky business, chopping and changing when a team is going through a rich vein of form. Hence, most teams prefer to carry on with a set line-up to build on the momentum.
However, the teams change over a period of time and no player is a permanent fixture of a team forever. While a player makes his debut, the retirement is something, which can be delayed to a certain extent, but is inevitable. Therefore, it’s essential to groom youngsters so that they can fill in the void after the senior cricketers bid adieu to the game.
The Champions Trophy is just a couple of days away from the league stage and India- the defending champions will again be one of the teams to watch out for. They are pretty experienced from all the aspects and are strong contenders to lift the cup.
With Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh patrolling the middle order, the batting line up looks solid and things are in a healthy shape for the Men in Blue. Nevertheless, cricket will continue even after the Champions Trophy and the Indian team management has to put on their thinking caps.
Dhoni and Yuvraj, both at 35 years of age have limited years of cricket remaining ahead of them. Creating their backup is of prime importance and here’s where training of young budding cricketers comes to the fore.
The Sri Lankan way- A No with a Capital N
If India has to take their cricket forward to the next level, the Sri Lankan approach isn’t something they can take insights from. The Lankans stuck to their veterans for way too long and when they hung their boots up, Sri Lankan cricket went into the doldrums.
Let’s take a look into the team performances of Sri Lanka after the big guns decided to call it a day.
Since Muttiah Muralitharan’s last One Day International
Since Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara’s last One Day International
Top five Sri Lankan spinners since Muralitharan’s last One Day International
It’s pretty evident from the data that with the gradual retirements of their previous gem of a generation, the performances have gone downhill. The win/loss ratio has dropped drastically, especially after Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena’s final One Day International.
Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka’s best spinner till date, has retired after the 2011 World Cup Final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and since then Lankan cricket has struggled to find a frontline spinner for the limited overs format.
For 163 games after the offspinner's retirement, Sachitra Senanayake has played the most matches as a spinner, which shows the dismal state of their talent pool. Indian cricket might land into serious trouble if they follow the footsteps of their neighbour’s footsteps.
The players Indian team can groom
Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper/batsman)
Pant has been brilliant with his stroke-play and has enthralled one and all with the willow in hand. For a 19 year old, he has displayed a composed temperament, playing some impressive knocks both in the domestic circuit as well as the IPL. With a highest score of 308 and an average of 68.81 in the Ranji Trophy last season, he has a sparkling future ahead of him.
Basil Thampi (fast bowler)
The right arm pacer from Kerala has impressed with the ball in hand during his stint with the Gujarat Lions in the Indian Premier League. With 11 wickets in the 12 games he played, he has been on top of his game. He has pace in his armoury with the help of which he has troubled the best in the business. He is undoubtedly a bowler, India can look up to.
Nitish Rana (batsman)
The Mumbai Indians batsman has been a thorn in the flesh of several oppositions during the course of the IPL. During crunch moments of a game, he stood tall to his team’s requirements of getting them over the winning time. Even at the first class level, playing for Delhi, he has a decent average of 41.78 with 146 as his top score.
The left handed batsman from Jharkhand has chipped in with useful knocks for the Gujarat Lions and has been elegant in his approach. With 277 at a strike rate of 134, has taken his team off to fliers on numerous occasions. He has also captained the Indian Under 19 team during the 2016 World Cup in Bangladesh and took shepherded them to the Finals.
Cricket is a dynamic sport and has gone through several changes in the past one decade or so. Big players weave their magic with their skills in their respective departments and leave the game after a certain period.
The Indian team has been constantly been blessed with tremendous talent and the legacy has been carried forward by several other cricketers. However, with the surge of time, they need to act proactively and shell out talents to be nurtured for the future, which also applies to other cricketing nations.