Rishabh Pant was out in single digits, nicking to Karun Nair in the slips, as Delhi folded for the second time in two innings against Karnataka © PTI
KP Bhaskar, Delhi’s head coach, has said a systematic overhaul of Delhi cricket is needed if they are to stay competitive in the Ranji Trophy. His comments followed Delhi’s meek surrender to Karnataka inside eight sessions in Kolkata. Bhaskar, who himself had played 95-first class matches over 14 years and was a prolific run-scorer for a strong Delhi side in the ’80s, termed the current system “ineffective”.
The chaos surrounding their build-up to the domestic season every year, he said, was one of the reasons why Delhi struggled. The chaos isn’t entirely of the team’s making; administrative hassles, Bhaskar said, couldn’t entirely be looked at in isolation as it impacted both age-group and senior sides competing under the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) banner.
This year, the coach’s appointment was made with less than a month to go for the season, and the team didn’t get together until two days before their Ranji Trophy opener against Assam in Vadodara. A two-day practice game that was scheduled for September 26 and 27 against Uttar Pradesh was called off because the DDCA couldn’t find a ground to host the match. This even as curators and ground staff threatened a strike for unpaid wages and bonuses.
“I got the team two days before the season started,” Bhaskar said, when asked about Delhi’s preparation when compared to some of the other sides which had pre-season conditioning camps and tournaments. “There was not much of mental preparation. Whatever was happening was whatever they were doing on their own, so I really don’t know. That is something which we need to work on. The system has to fall into place; we have to have more opportunities of playing exposure, and try to build a team before getting into the Ranji Trophy.”
Last year, too, the team had to wait till the eve of their Ranji Trophy opener to know who the coach was. Ajay Jadeja, initially appointed head coach, didn’t travel with the team because he felt “his opinions and inputs don’t matter”. He was replaced by Vijay Dahiya. Then there was also the issue of factions within the DDCA naming three different probables lists for the Ranji Trophy. Their pre-season camp was further mired in controversy, with nobody to oversee the initial nets sessions at the Feroz Shah Kotla and no certainty over who was running the team.
Expecting the players to perform without a proper system in place, Bhaskar said, was tough. Among the things that needed to change, he said, was the system of merely playing in 40-over games in the build up to the Ranji Trophy. “Look at our batting,” he said. “We don’t have three-day formats; we don’t really play in pre-season tournaments like Buchi Babu or KSCA invitational. So currently we are only finding ways to work around it.”
Another aspect Bhaskar wanted looked into was the talent pool; he said it wasn’t being streamlined properly because of selection issues. “Last season, we had 45 different players playing for Delhi Under-23s. So think of it, how long it is going to take for the talented players from there to reach the Ranji Trophy?
“Tomorrow, if things don’t improve, we may have 50 players playing across eight games in the Ranji Trophy. Things need to be put in place, but at least we’ve made a start now. Things are looking good. Justice Mudgal has taken the initiative [of cleaning up the DDCA mess]. Let’s hope things improve.”
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo