Ranji Trophy: MCA should stop grooming outsiders, says Sudhir Naik

Former Mumbai chairman of selectors Sudhir Naik, who was instrumental in drafting Sarfaraz Khan in the Ranji Trophy probables in 2013, wants MCA to focus on local players after 17-year-old batsman decided to switch loyalties to Uttar Pradesh

Sarfaraz Khan's decision to leave Mumbai to play for Uttar Pradesh, the state he hails from, has not gone down well with the former Mumbai chairman of selectors Sudhir Naik.

Sudhir Naik
Sudhir Naik 

Former Test batsman and Mumbai captain Naik was instrumental in drafting youngsters like Sarfaraz and Armaan Jaffer in the Ranji Trophy probables in 2013. While Armaan is yet to make the first-class cut, Sarfaraz made his Ranji Trophy debut last year against Bengal.

Also Read: Mumbai lad Sarfaraz Khan to represent Uttar Pradesh in Ranji Trophy

"I had seen them (Sarfaraz and Armaan) as future of Mumbai cricket. We picked them at an early age so that they can be groomed with the seniors. But Sarfaraz's decision to play for Uttar Pradesh has hurt me a lot," Naik told mid-day yesterday.

The 17-year-old prodigious batting talent, who created a ripple in his maiden Indian Premier League season earlier this year, was issued a No Objection Certificate by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) on Tuesday to play for Uttar Pradesh in the forthcoming domestic season.

'Draft a policy'
Naik wants the MCA to think twice before entertaining players from other states. "It is high time that the MCA drafts a stern policy for players coming to Mumbai from other states. Otherwise, these outsiders will come here to develop their game and then they eventually go back to their own states to play a higher level of cricket. MCA should now think whether it is viable to groom these outsiders.

Sarfaraz Khan during an India U-19 World Cup match last year in UAE. File pic
Sarfaraz Khan during an India U-19 World Cup match last year in UAE. File pic 

"MCA and its coaches take a lot of effort to develop these talented youngsters. The MCA provides them good facilities and spends a lot of money on them as well to nurture them. And just because another state association has guaranteed him a place in the playing XI, he decided to leave," Naik said in disgust.

Sarfaraz started his cricket at an early age, playing in Mumbai's premier local tournaments before moving up the ladder where he went on to play for India in the U-19 World Cup last year in UAE. He was one of the top draws in the last IPL auction, fetching R50 lakh from Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Naik felt it's the Mumbai-born cricketers who lose out. "The players who come from other states only come with the aim to play cricket here. They are on the field 24x7. Our local cricketers lose out to these outsiders because they juggle between academics and cricket.

There are so many examples of young talented players who have stopped playing cricket because these outsiders are preferred over them. This is a serious issue and I request the Cricket Improvement Committee of the MCA to discuss this issue at length. It is time we groom and encourage our local cricketers," said Naik.

Action please!
Naik also criticised MCA's administration for not taking appropriate action at the right time when Sarfaraz's indiscipline issue was reported last season. "It was wrong on MCA's part to not take any action against Sarfaraz when the tournament was on," Naik said in reference to the obscene gesture the 17-year-old made during a Mumbai U-19 match.

Sarfaraz was let off with a warning before the MCA officials decided to withhold his match fees of the season for
a year.

"By not taking any decision then and there, the MCA has given an impression that players are bigger than the game. Indiscipline should not be tolerated at all," Naik signed off.

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