CHENNAI: Cricket is not just a sport for Indians, it is an emotion. And for several months now, this emotion was forced to be set aside, thanks to the pandemic. But now with relaxations normalising life, players are getting back on the field. While the seniors are aiming to bring laurels for India internationally, many young, domestic cricketers are waiting to make a mark on homegrounds.
In the past, the Buchi Babu and VAP Trophy served as selection trials for red ball and white ball cricket respectively in the state. With no First Division league matches of the TNCA league in the next couple of months, the Tamil Nadu Premier League will be keenly watched by the Tamil Nadu state selection committee led by S Vasudevan. Tamil Nadu coach D Vasu believes that the TNPL is a good opportunity for youngsters and players, who are making a comeback after injury, to prove their worth.
“One must laud the decision of TNCA to restart cricket and provide the opportunity to the next generation of cricketers to show their skills and break into the Tamil Nadu side. The TNPL is the first domestic tournament to be televised and with most of the senior players opting out due to various reasons, the selectors and talent scouts of the various IPL teams will be looking for new talent from the younger bunch,” said Vasu.
This tournament serves as a good opportunity for players to polish their skills. The former Tamil Nadu all-rounder believes that players have to start from scratch to keep fit mentally and physically. “With this being the only T20 tournament before the start of the national domestic season, younger players should grab the opportunity. However, a word of caution; protocols such as fitness testing, nutrition, workloads, mental health, etc. should be followed, as there has been almost a two-year break due to the pandemic for most of the players. They could be rusty due to lack of competitive cricket and I am sure the franchises are aware of it and will support the players throughout the tournament,” said Vasu.
Tamil Nadu has been performing well in white-ball cricket, but they have been inconsistent with the red ball. The longest format of the game helps players in developing skills, he believes. “Red ball and longer duration games are the base to develop skills and mental strength required for any format. T20 gives players a lot of thrill and instant fame. Enjoy it, but remember the focus must be on red-ball cricket to develop as a cricketer of international standards. Historically, players who have been a great success in red-ball cricket have done extremely well in white-ball too. So none of the players should shun playing four-day games,” is his advice.
With R Ashwin and Washington Sundar often on India duty, many believe that one area of concern for Tamil Nadu is the lack of quality all-rounders. Although Vijay Shankar last played for India in the World Cup in England, he has been injury-prone. Varun Chakravarthy and T Natarajan have had injuries at the wrong time and the team has suffered. “Injuries are part and parcel of the game. A larger bench strength, proper workload management, good rehab and return-to-play protocols will help the development of players in the future. Rotation of fast bowlers will also help them to stay fresh and perform,” he adds. We’ll wait and watch as the games begin today.