CHENNAI: After the Ranji Trophy was divided into Elite and Plate groups, teams that were relegated to Plate found it difficult to retain players. The scenario became more complex when the tournament was remodelled into a three-group affair. A couple of years back, when Hyderabad were relegated to Group C, they suffered a shock when regular Pragyan Ojha decided to move to Bengal to further his prospects of playing for India.
“I owe my entire career to Hyderabad. It is here I made a name for myself as a youngster and played for the country. But I have come to that stage of my life where I need to look ahead,” Ojha had said then.
This season, Hyderabad did an ‘Ojha’ by appointing former Tamil Nadu and Vidarbha player S Badrinath captain of their team. Nowadays, many teams, including those from South Zone, have outstation professionals in their ranks. Some teams feel that local players are denied an opportunity. So the question is, how much value do outstation players add to teams? “Badrinath is leading by example. His experience and dedication will come in handy for the boys,’’ said Hyderabad coach B Arun.
One of the reasons that Badrinath wanted to play for Hyderabad was he felt that he could still contribute in all the formats.
“I am fit and keen to contribute to the team in my own way. As a professional, one must be able to adapt and play anywhere,’’ said Badrinath, whose team defeated Kerala by five runs in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament on Tuesday.
Goa has always thrived on out-station players and Swapnil Asnodkar sees nothing wrong in that. Tamil Nadu players like VB Chandrasekar and Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan have played for Goa in the past.
“This year we have Rituraj Singh who played for Rajasthan last year. He is a good prospect and suits our need,” said Asnodkar. “In Goa, we do not have a strong league like any other State. Plus our school cricket structure is not that strong, that’s why Dilip Sardesai remains the best Goa-born cricketer to play for the country,” added the former Rajasthan Royals player, whose team was thrashed by Tamil Nadu.
Hanuma Vihari, captain of Andhra who played for Hyderabad last year, welcomes the move. “We have Bhargav Bhatt who moved to us from Baroda. He is a tight bowler and fits the bill,” insisted Vihari whose team lost to Karnataka by 37 runs.
Do these imports stall the chances of youngsters making their respective State squads? “No, we pick the outstation players after having a look at what we have back home. We pick a particular player to fill a certain slot to strengthen our side,” insisted the former India U-19 World Cup winning player.
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have not gone in for a professional player. “We do not need the services of an outstation professional, as we have a good supply chain due the presence of a strong league. Sunil Sam and Prasanth Parameswaran (Kerala) may have played for us in the past. But they were part of our league and didn’t play as outstation guys,” pointed out Tamil Nadu captain Vijay Shankar.
Raghuram Bhat, chairman of the Karnataka state selection committee, believes that both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are blessed with talent and need not look elsewhere.