Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Tarak Sinha - The star that navigated cricketers' pathway. The way Tarak Sinha would pick up little known players for some special talent that was not obvious to others was quite remarkable
The way Tarak Sinha would pick up little known players for some special talent that was not obvious to others was quite remarkable
Having cut my teeth as a merchant mariner, I am familiar with the role of stars in navigating a ship. There are millions of stars in the firmament, but the navigator uses a set of stars as guiding stars, such as the Pole star in the Northern Hemisphere or the constellation of Southern Cross in the Southern Hemisphere. Tarak Sinha was one such star for the cricketers. I have seen the best of cricketers seek the guidance of the universally loved Ustadji.
Much has been written about the crop of international and Ranji cricketers that he produced under his tutelage – Surinder Khanna, Raman Lamba, Ajay Sharma, Atul Wassan, Manoj Prabhakar, Ashish Nehra, Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant being the most notable, as also that great Ranji cricketer KP Bhaskar, who somehow missed a national call-up.
I watched him from very close quarters when I appointed him as the Director of Rajasthan Cricket Association Academy, with full authority over coaches and staff.
In the 2010-11 season, Rajasthan had started as the bottom most team and were placed in the two-tier Elite and Club divisions. The top two teams from the club tier had the advantage of qualifying directly to the quarter-final stage according to the rules in currency at that time.
Tarak took extensive tours of the district centres, and it was from one of these tours that he recommended to the selection panel an 18-year old Deepak Chahar. The pace bowler, who was then playing in the Under-19 age group, wouldn't have been considered for senior selection under the normal rules. I, as the Secretary, always put his counsel at the top, and so did the selection panel, fortunately.
Deepak took eight wickets for 10 runs in his debut Ranji innings to bowl Hyderabad out for 21, and the triumphant march of the Rajasthan team had begun. We had also got Akash Chopra, a ward of Tarak, into the team as a professional, and besides his batting at the top of the order, the major change that he brought about in the team was to prepare a close catching cordon that did not drop any catches at all, save for one half chance off Subramaniam Badrinath in the semi-finals.
When the team qualified for the quarter-finals and was facing Mumbai, the reigning champions, it was Tarak who insisted that we play the left-handed Ashok Menaria instead of Vaibhav Deshpande – another left-hander who was in pulsating form. To our good fortune, the selection committee listened to him, and Menaria went on to hit three centuries in the knock-out stage – one each in the quarter-final, semi-final, and the final, and the rest is history.
More than the Ranji triumph, his talent scouting at the level of Under-14 was so wonderful that the boys spotted and groomed by him at that stage are still forming the core of Rajasthan cricket. That was the time that I saw his famed ability to spot talent.
His ability to correct the fault of an out of form player was also legendary. I saw him working with not just the players, but also the coaches, who would all come to seek his advice.
On a personal level, his self-effacement and complete devotion to the game, to the extent that he did not even marry, was something rare. He was also instrumental in laying emphasis on women's cricket, which was completely neglected till that point in Rajasthan.
I personally spent many hours just sitting next to him in the nets where he would watch players practise. He would never tick off a player while he was in the middle of it, but would only ask those who he thought needed correction as to where the player felt he was going wrong, and would then gently correct him. With his high performers, he was very severe. I have seen players becoming happy if they received a dressing down from Ustadji, because they were aware that a dressing down from him also meant that they were rated highly by him.
His tours around the district were education in itself. The way he would pick up little known players for some special talent that was not obvious to others was quite remarkable. It was also impossible for anyone to get a sifarishi into his scheme of things. Rajasthan cricket was headed for greatness and glory when petty politics in the Association made him quit the job. Players like Pant also suffered in the process. Even after having represented Rajasthan in Under-16, vested interests got him suspended from RCA on the charge of being an outsider. Pant may be a valuable asset for the national team, but as for as RCA is concerned, believe it or not, he still remains suspended. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him as he shifted to DDCA under the close eye of Tarak, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Tarak Sinha, you will always be remembered.
Sanjay Dixit is an ex-President and Secretary of the Rajasthan Cricket Association. He also happens to be an ex-IAS officer and is also a best-selling author.