I wrote this piece on the Ranji trophy for www.sportshero.com.
Here it is on the blog
Here it is on the blog
The Indian Domestic Season is here again. It’s ironic that it has to be called a season, given that the players are playing cricket all through the year. If it’s not an international match, then it’s an IPL game or an India Red Vs India Blue Game. The bottom line is that our cricketers – international or domestic – are always playing cricket. So using the word ‘season’ does not seem appropriate.
This year, the Ranji Trophy will be a test for several cricketers. Until last year, however, and unfortunately, it was not. The reason was simple. Selection procedure was based on a cricketer’s IPL performance. It was no longer based on a domestic tournament performance. RP Singh is living example of this. A talented bowler, RP created headlines for his performance in the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa. He also impressed in England in the 2008 series under Rahul Dravid’s captaincy. He had a five-wicket haul in a game against Pakistan in a test match in India. And then, he disappeared and played only IPL matches. He was selected for the tour of England, following Zaheer Khan’s injury, thanks to his IPL performance. Selectors failed to ignore that he had a poor 2010 Ranji season, but persisted with him. He looked out of sorts and unfit during the third test match. And although he managed to take a few wickets in the ODIs, he went for a lot of runs.
Thankfully, the Indian media has realized this and thanks to international experts, which include former cricketers, are realizing that players who wish to play cricket at the highest level should be selected on basis of their endurance in local domestic tournaments that are played over a period of 3-5 days. This is why someone like Harbhajan Singh will have a lot to prove to justify his selection, even though he is the current leading wicket taker in the world, who is still playing.
The Ranji Trophy begins this November. The competition will be intense. Players will want to prove their mettle and earn a place in the test side. Furthermore, the selectors will be keenly observing players who will replace Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman after they retire. They have Kohli currently. Players like Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, will have to slog it out to earn their place. Having said that, it’s not going to be easy for Kohli either. He didn’t impress in the test series against West Indies, so he will have a lot to prove as well.
This Ranji tournament will not be about the teams. It will be about the players grafting their way to play for India. And the player has to realize that before it is too late.