How impressed are you with Unmukt Chand’s captaincy and six-hitting?
Chand is a good captain. He tends to stay ahead of the game, which is an important part of captaincy and in other words, he is proactive, not reactive.
He is technically a good batsman and so on, but to see such power from a little guy is quite amazing. The sixes he hit, and not just in the final - he hit them in some other games as well – were terrific.
Obviously, he is a very good timer of the ball, but a couple of times he cleared the boundary a hell of a long way and that is surprising.
We are always talking about the need to get on to the next group of players. So, what message should this triumph send out to our senior selectors?
If you are talking about the current national selection committee, this under-19 World Cup win doesn’t send out any message because I don’t think they are very good. I believe India is getting a new panel of selectors in September and hopefully that one will be better than the current one. The panel do not have any idea about succession plans - moving the older players on gradually and bringing younger ones in gradually so that you don’t have a whole bunch together. The important thing is to keep challenging young players until they reach the top or reach a level where they can’t go any further.
Chand is in the India ‘A’ side which is not a bad progression, but I’d be fast tracking him towards international level otherwise you are going to leave him too long at a lower level.
And that’s where the selectors come in, right?
Yeah! But from what I have seen of Indian selection in the last few years, I don’t have any faith of them progressing the way they should. They (selectors) have this misguided feeling that if they win trophies, it makes them good selectors. That’s rubbish in my book. What makes you good selectors is getting guys to the international level at the time they should get there and that is a matter of picking players on their ability and not age.
The fact that Harmeet Singh and Chand are playing at the under-19 level is ridiculous. If there wasn’t any cricket on in India, I’d accept it, but you have other cricket going on and these guys should be playing at a higher level.
Three under-19 World Cup wins and now on par with Australia! What would you put that down to?
I wouldn’t be getting too excited about it. Winning tournaments at the under-19 level doesn’t necessarily mean the future looks rosy because a lot of players who are good at that level might not go any further. So, while it might look good in the trophy cabinet as well as when you are reporting to your superiors, I don’t think it is all that important.
So how does a team cash in on an under-19 World Cup win?
Look, there will be a certain percentage of those fellows who will never go on to be anything, and it will probably be the bulk of them. The important thing is to get the fellows who are really good, moving up the line quickly so that they don’t stagnate. There are probably five to six guys in this team that you should be fast-tracking.
How much did you enjoy commentating on a junior tournament?
It was good. I like it because you get a chance to see young players – hopefully, you see them when they are starting out and in a couple of years’ time when become good players.
We are surprised by your take on Harmeet Singh. According to you, he is India’s best bowler at all levels…
He’s better than Harbhajan Singh. I have a lot of time for R Ashwin. He’s a good competitor, but technically as a spinner, Harmeet is a better bowler than him right now. There are so many batsmen now that don’t want to use their feet and this guy is the worst possible nightmare for these batsmen. You could see Bosisto (Australia captain) today. He didn’t want to leave his crease, but was getting dragged out of his crease because the bowling was so tantalising. There will be thousands in India who will disagree with me, but in my book, there is no contest between Harmeet and Pragyan Ojha.