City cricket revival needs more than just panels

Ostensibly, Mumbai Cricket Association president Sharad Pawar’s reaction to the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team’s disappointing performance came in the form of the re-introduction of the Cricket Improvement Committee (CIC).

The CIC, as in the past, has some of the biggest names in Mumbai cricket — Madhav Apte, Ajit Wadekar, Milind Rege, Ajit Agarkar, Vinod Kambli et al.

These names were enduring performers with Wadekar being the MCA vice-president hierarchy for a few terms before he lost to Pawar when the Maratha strongman decided to throw his hat in the MCA ring at the start of the Millennium.

Formation of this committee is not going to obliterate Mumbai cricket’s woes. In fact, it will play only a small role, their powers to appoint and replace coaches at all levels notwithstanding. At best, it’s a small step towards redemption.

What’s needed is a complete revolution where the revival of club cricket is concerned and a fast track approach towards talent-spotting.

Much to the consternation of Mumbai cricket followers and fans, this is not happening. Mediocrity prevails all across our maidans and teams are more often than not going through the motions. It’s unfair to put the blame squarely on the cricketers. Young players don’t become champions overnight. They have to be watched, nursed, encouraged and admonished by the right kind of people. That is missing in and around the club tents.

The MCA will be well served to appoint passionate talent scouts who can be allies to the selectors. The history of Mumbai cricket tells us that several players made the grade by being spotted while they paraded their skills for teams below the premier division.

The current Ranji Trophy selectors appear to be convinced that youth will come good and good luck to them, but they need to be given a hand by the scouts to maintain a healthy flow of players who will keep the current lot of players on their toes.

The current scenario makes Mumbai ineligible for bragging rights and the revival of the CIC holds the keys to only the top floor. Clearly, there’s more to be done.

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