It is high time the Indian selectors focus on the future of Indian cricket
U-19 World Cup is a tournament that is the perfect stage where these young lads get to experience what is there to offer in the sport of cricket. With the likes of Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and many more players who were gifted to the world by this tournament, have made their mark. Despite having a good one, many of the U-19 World Cup heroes are not recognized due to lack of opportunities in the senior team.
With India winning the U-19 World Cup in New Zealand for the record fourth time, there was one person who was worried about the future of these stars after this World Cup. The team’s coach Rahul Dravid at a press conference, simply said,” The challenge and the hard work really start from here, we had a couple of conversations on it. When we were there they showed a rerun of the 2012 finals and I started checking upon a few things. It is interesting; the result of the final is India beat Australia but six years down the line only one of those boys has played for India while 5-6 of them went on to play for Australia. Six years down the line, the only debatable point is, who won that final?” This question itself is a big statement, which The Board of Control for Cricket in India(BCCI) has failed to answer over the years.
In the words of Adolf Hitler,” He alone who owns the youth gains the future”. This quote clearly fits the current situation of BCCI but the question is that do they really use their youth to a good extent? Since 2010, out of 80 players who have played this tournament, only 5 or 6 players have made their debut in the Senior team. To give some perspective, Unmukt Chand, Sarfraz Khan, and Sanju Samson who were once considered future stars, are not even in the picture.
Current Scenario of the Indian Cricket Team:
With the World Cup just 18 months away, it will be good for the senior team selectors to start their search for new talent in order to fill the void which would be left by the likes of MS Dhoni. Rishabh Pant who was once dubbed as the ideal replacement is off the radar after the England series in 2017.
Seeing the current scenario of the Indian team, they may seem unanimously invincible. But are we looking at the bigger picture? With most of the players around their thirties and some on the verge of retirement, India is heading on the same path as Australia in 2010 or India itself after the 2011 World Cup, where the entire team had to be rebuilt.
Opportunities for these young players to feature this year:
With India due to play Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the tri-series in Sri Lanka and set to host West Indies later in the year, for a bilateral series; after which they prepare for the Asia Cup, it will be the best time for the selectors to give rest to the senior players and start giving chances to the young players so that they have a solid bench strength by the end of the World Cup 2019.
In doing so, they can avoid the same fate as that of South Africa in the ODI series against India, where they were vulnerable without their senior players. Players like Rishabh Pant, Shardul Thakur and Mohammad Siraj are waiting on the sidelines and current U-19 stars Shaw, Gill, Manjot Kalra and bowlers like Nagarkoti have risen up to the challenge and proven what they are capable of.
They should now be given more chances in the senior team so that these young and new names are capable enough to fill the shoes if and when they are called upon.
As Franklin.D. Roosevelt once said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”