CHENNAI: A day after launching the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) president N Srinivasan said this is the first step towards taking cricket to the districts. He also spoke to Express at length about Tamil Nadu's performance and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin's decision to resign from India Cements and join rival club Chemplast. Excerpts.
What's the takeaway from TNPL?
We are trying to make inter-district cricket matches more competitive. The structured approach has helped and there are a lot of district players in the Tamil Nadu squad. This is one more step to make it even bigger. Seven teams have chosen districts, which is a big boost. We are thrilled by the response.
Two years back you refused to launch a T20 league. What has changed now?
Thinking evolves. In the beginning, a lot of people were against T20. That perception has changed now. T20 is growing, and looking at these competitions, we got the impression there is a lot of talent that was not coming out.
Not many from Tamil Nadu make it to the IPL teams. Was TNPL necessary to help players cater to modern-day demands?
It will at least give them an opportunity to showcase their T20 skills. If they shine they might get to play in the IPL because scouts watch these events.
How do you look at Tamil Nadu's domestic performance?
Tamil Nadu has always had good cricketers. In the last few years, we have been unlucky in terms of rain and all that. We take our cricket seriously and look at every season as an opportunity to win the Ranji Trophy. Hopefully, we will win soon.
There is talk that TN players get a lot of freedom and aren't serious. Do you see that as a problem?
In a team sport, sometimes your expectations aren't met or team's fortunes don't go your way irrespective of what you do. We have a talented bunch and should have won the Ranji Trophy by now. Somehow, it is eluding us. With more determination, we should succeed.
Tamil Nadu has changed coaches in the last two seasons. Are you looking to outsiders to take the team forward?
I alone can't comment on that. It is up to the TNCA's executive committee to decide.
Not many Tamil Nadu players are regulars in the zonal tournaments? Are you worried about it?
They are all coming up and it's there for you to see. I believe a player has to select himself. All of them have skills. Competition is intense across the country, unlike previous years.
Ashwin had been a huge name for India Cements in recent years. What has prompted him to move?
The biggest rivalry is to win the Palayampatti Shield. So if he goes to my competitor I understand it (smiles).
But you invested in him. Isn't this a blow?
It's a free world and the TNCA first division is the best in the country. Ashwin has his own goals and is moving away. I don't mind that at all. Rivalry on the field, the will to win, is important. In the process if somebody moves, I'm not going to be bothered about it.