Colonel moots u-22 league
Despite his hectic schedule the chairman of national selectors Dilip Vengsarkar took some time off to check Mumbai’s bench strength for the coming season. In the city for a few hours while in transit between the two ODI venues Hyderabad and Baroda, the former Indian captain turned up to watch the finals of the under-22 Shalini Bhalekar cricket tournament. Over the years the tournament has thrown up a number of players that have graduated to the Ranji Trophy and Vengsarkar, who is also the chairman Mumbai Ranji selection committee, didn’t want to miss an opportunity to take a stock of the assembly line. “Yes, this tournament has been on for a long time. And this has provided a number of players to the Ranji squad,” Vengsarkar told The Indian Express.
Among the present Mumbai squad five players _ Sahil Kukreja, Prashant Naik, Abhishek Nayar, Omkar Gurav and Rajesh Verma _ made it to the senior after brilliant show in the u-22 tournament.
It has been a simple format that this tournament has been following for years. After an open trial, that generally attracts hundreds of players, four teams are selected and they play a knock-out tournament.
Vengsarkar is of the opinion that the format needs to be slightly tweaked. “Instead of knock-out the tournament we intend to change it to a league next year. This will ensure that the boys will get three matches to play. So in case someone misses out in one game there is always another chance in a league format,” he said spelling out his future plans.
Not just that Vengsarkar was also of the view that there should be an open summer nets for u-22 players. “At times there are players coming from suburbs and small towns and an open net will provide them to showcase their talents,” Vengsarkar said.
Vengsarkar also had word of praise for the Mangesh Bhalekar, the man who revived u-22 cricket. “He has been organising this tournament for years and constantly we have got boys for the senior team,” he said.
Ask Bhalekar the reason for starting this tournament and he has a ready explanation. “What I realised that after playing u-14, u-17 and u-19 cricket there was nothing for player who was not able to make to the senior team. Generally, players make it to the Ranji team when they are in their mid 20s. Such u-22 tournament will keep the players occupied and also provide them with an opportunity to show their talent,” he said.