Don't Want India's Talent Pool To Stagnate As The Other Dominant Teams - MSK Prasad > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Don't want India's talent pool to stagnate like other dominant teams - MSK Prasad
MSK Prasad, chairman of India's selection committee, talks about the need for creating a stronger bench strength, explains the communication process with the team management, NCA and the set-up, and more in an exclusive interview.
Q. How does it feel just being the chairman of the selection committee at a time India have won their first ever Test series in Australia?
A. It's a huge honour for me and my colleagues that we are at the helm when such a historical feat has been achieved. Like any another passionate Indian cricket admirer, I feel very happy that this team has achieved a phenomenal milestone after 71 years on Australian soil. All that I can say is that this champion Indian Team has dominated in all departments of the game throughout the series. This team looked like it has come up with a mission and accomplished it with total control and command.
Q. What's your communication like with the coach and the captain?
A. The team management and the selection committee have built a wonderful rapport in the last couple of years. We do have a few odd differences but at the end of the day, we stand united and take responsibility for the outcome. The selection committee, team management and Rahul Dravid have built healthy systems of monitoring the progress of players from domestic levels to India A, and from there to the senior Indian team. Because of this combined grooming process, the players don't feel overawed when they are thrown on to the bigger stage.
Q. Is it fair to criticise team selections for the few losses earlier this year? Playing Kuldeep Yadav at Lord's, dropping Ajinkya Rahane in South Africa, dropping Cheteshwar Pujara in England, dropping Bhuvneshwar Kumar in South Africa - all of these received some amount of flak. How do you look at those decisions now?
A. There are no hidden agendas or motives behind any decisions taken by the team management while picking the team or playing XIs. It is human that at times we would have faltered but having said that, certain decisions are taken on form rather than the stats behind the player. I am sure certain experiences that we had in South Africa and England have only helped us in picking the right combinations in Australia. The only goal for this Indian team is to win as many matches as possible across the globe, and in the process, we might have taken certain hard decisions.
Q. How do you look at India go from a 6-5 combination to a 7-4 in Tests? What happened between England and Australia for the change in strategy?
A. I think we have got it right with 7-4 combinations while playing abroad. Especially with our pace bowlers going so well, the need for the fifth bowling option has become negligible. This has also helped us in strengthening our batting department.
Q. How big a role does Hardik Pandya then play in bringing a balance to the side, now that you already have such a quality pace attack?
A. Hardik Pandya definitely adds huge strength to the team's balance. He brings in that additional strength to all three departments (batting, bowling and fielding). He has an abundance of talent, which he needs to realise and convert into match-winning performances.
Q. What about your communication with those managing injuries?
A. We share a healthy relationship with Patrick (Farhart), (Shankar) Basu and their team at the NCA. We are constantly updated about the fitness status of each and every fringe player, which makes our job easy while picking the team. I and my colleagues keep talking to the players to keep their morale strong while they are nursing injuries too.
Q. Was there anything specific that told you that the likes of Prithvi Shaw or Shubman Gill are ready to be picked for India?
A. We have developed a healthy player progression process. Ravi Shastri, Dravid, I and my colleagues keep discussing on the players' progress and based on the need in the senior team, we upgrade the players from India A to the senior team.
Q. What exactly do you look from those in the 'A' set-up? How do you know a certain player is ready in that setup, even the likes of Bumrah?
A. Fundamentally, we look at consistency and also the quality of runs scored in trying and testing conditions. We select a bunch of talented players from domestic cricket and provide them with ample opportunities to excel and those who do get promoted.
Q. Can you guide the process that led to Bumrah being looked at as a Test bowler?
A. Yes, Bumrah was initially picked for the shorter formats. There were many theories that this kid shouldn't be exposed to the longer format since he has a peculiar action, which can lead him to injuries. In fact, the selection committee and team management thought the other way round. If this kid can get stronger without making any changes to his action, he can prove to be effective in the longer format, especially while playing abroad. Bharat, Basu and Patrick have really worked hard on him and at the same time, hats off to Bumrah who has religiously followed the fitness regimens he has been subjected too. Today, we have results to see. Within a span of one year, he has become the most important bowler in our team, and at the same time, he is ranked as one of the top bowlers in the ICC Test Rankings.
Q Do you see in the future the team wanting to rest the likes of Bumrah and Shami for home Tests, considering the impact they have overseas? Could India become a team which has specific players for home and overseas challenges?
A. I think with the volume of quality players that we have right now and with the heavy workload that our cricketers are going through, we can move towards that direction.
Q. Are you told by the coaches the kind of players (say all-rounder or finger/wrist spinner) you need?
A. We don't need to be told separately as we are part and parcel of that process along with the team management and fill in the slots as and when required.
Q. When did the planning start for the 2019 World Cup?
A. The planning started right after the finals of the Champions Trophy in 2017. We analysed our shortcomings after that game, and we started working to fulfil those shortcomings. We tried certain new combinations and I feel we have fairly succeeded in what we wanted.
Q. If India now want to be a team that can score 350-plus regularly in ODIs, does this middle order allow you to do that? Is someone like Pant pushing the likes of DK or Rayudu?
A. I have confidence in this team that we can chase bigger totals. We have a good blend of experience and exuberance of youth who play that fearless brand of cricket.
Q. What can you tell someone like Wriddhiman Saha now, with Rishabh Pant coming in?
A. Saha has been our No.1 wicketkeeper till he got injured. Subsequently, we have given an opportunity to young Rishab, which he has grabbed with both hands. Having said that, Saha is still in our scheme of things for the longer format.
Q. Bringing in the next line of fast bowlers. How strong is the emphasis on bowling quick now? Where and how did that come about?
A. In the last couple of years, we have identified certain fast bowlers and started grooming them at the NCA. We have given them exposure on A tours and in BP XIs against visiting sides. We also started this system of having understudies during foreign tours to give an opportunity for the upcoming seamers to understand the demands of the game at the highest levels, and at the same time help them to get used to our own players and environment. This system has also helped them to work with our bowling coach Bharat Arun and also train with Shankar Basu.
Q. Are players a lot more used to the yo-yo tests being a criteria for selection now?
A. Yes of course, everyone understands the need to be fit to play at this level, which happened due to the mandatory fitness test fixed. Not only at this level, I was told that yo-yo tests have become mandatory at the state levels too. I am very happy that Indian cricket is following fitness regimens religiously.
Q. How much of your role is about the long-term planning like preparing a succession plan for say someone like Dhoni?
A. It's just not about any particular individual but preparing a succession chart for the entire existing lot, and that is the most important aspect of our job.
Q. How do you look at a lot of players having come in through the IPL and then become Test regulars from Pandya to Bumrah?
A. Well, IPL is a premier Indian tournament that has the best players playing from across the world. The fierce competition that this tournament offers is phenomenal. Players performing consistently will definitely catch the eye. Having said that, we pick players from IPL only for T20 format and from there on to ODIs, if they are living up to the expected standards. After being picked from the IPL, it's up to the players on how keen they are in learning the tricks of the trade that different formats of the game offer. If they learn to adapt, then they can play any format. It is very similar to the days gone by where players who used to perform exceedingly well in Ranji got noticed by the selectors, and when they were thrown into the other formats, they used to excel too. Once noticed and recognised in one format, it's all about how the players adapt to the demands of the other formats of the game.
Q. You've been spotted watching domestic cricket, always with a diary in hand, which you keep filling up. How much of the information that goes into it has helped you keep on top of things?
A. I love watching as many matches as possible in domestic cricket because that's where the future of Indian cricket lies. Our domestic cricket is very good, and we keep seeing special talent every passing year which I and my colleagues don't want to miss. Unless and until we watch these matches and identify fresh talent and prepare a good succession chart, there is every possibility that we might get stagnated like some other countries. I never want a situation like some of those countries who have dominated world cricket in different eras and are found wanting of quality players today. When I and my colleagues leave this job, we will be very happy to see the Indian Team dominating in all three formats and at the same time have created a healthy bench strength that India need not worry for quality players or replacements for the next decade.
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