SURAT: A lot is happening in Tamil Nadu cricket, both good and bad. In a bid to bring back domestic glory to the state, G Vasu was appointed as the new coach ahead of the season. Now, the sudden demise of former player VB Chandrasekhar followed by the Tamil Nadu Premier League match-fixing scandal has seen the state make the headlines for the wrong reasons. Not to mention the administrative shake-up that awaits the association.
This chaotic backdrop notwithstanding, Tamil Nadu are determined to shed their tag of perennial underachievers. Since the Vijay Hazare-Deodhar Trophy double in 2016, they have gone silent in all formats. This, mind you, coming from the team that has won Vijay Hazare the most number of times (5) on this side of the millennium. Their performances have been so underwhelming that not one player from the state found a place in this year’s Duleep Trophy squad.
The question has never been about if they can. If Tamil Nadu think of pinning hopes on someone who can climb up the ladder this season to the India A rung apart from Baba Indrajith — still recovering from a shoulder injury — it ought to be N Jagadeesan.
Having made his debut for the state in the 2016-17 season, the wicketkeeper-batsman has shown the ability to play according to the situation, considering that he has been shunted both up and down the order in all formats.
In 19 List A innings, he’s scored 737 at an average of 38.78. In the last Vijay Hazare, he was the third-highest scorer (294). Consistent runs in TNPL — he has crossed 1,000 runs in four editions — saw him getting picked up by Chennai Super Kings last year.
“As of now, I aim to finish the tournament as the highest run-getter for Tamil Nadu,” said Jagadeesan. “Being part of the team for three years and going into the fourth season, I want to step up a bit more. That apart, my target is to take my game to the next level. It’s high time that I start performing so that I get to play the next level.” Even though it took him time to cope with playing different roles, the Coimbatore native is now used to it. “I had to play at the top some times, and in the middle some times. But players need to be versatile, and I have realised that.”
Tamil Nadu’s pre-season camp — which last happened before the 2016-17 season — saw an increased emphasis on fitness. Ostensibly due to the team’s pacers often being sidelined by injuries. On a personal front, the 23-year-old revealed that he has focussed on strength training at the gym.
“It’s about the amount of time you put in, and how smartly you use it. I have been working a lot harder than the last two seasons, be it on my technique or fitness. I’ve changed my fitness regimen. Hopefully, it works out well.”