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Under-19 state level players' talent must be tapped: Balwinder Singh Sandhu

Groom pacers who don't make it to state under-19 teams, says former NCA pace bowling coach Balwinder Singh Sandhu as BCCI's big names meet in Bangalore to chart roadmap

Balwinder Singh Sandhu, who ought to be known also for his coaching abilities apart from his inswinger that caused West Indies opener Gordon Greenidge to shoulder arms in the 1983 World Cup final at Lord's, could have been part of yesterday's Indian cricket roadmap meeting in Bangalore.

Balwinder Singh Sandhu
Balwinder Singh Sandhu

But he wasn't. Until the 2014-15 season, Mumbai-based Sandhu was bowling coach at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. In fact, less than a month ago, Sandhu was in Patna coaching U-19 Bihar cricketers in a BCCI-NCA camp where former India players Gursharan Singh and Noel David were coaches too.

MS Dhoni (limited overs skipper), Virat Kohli (Test captain), new head coach Anil Kumble, U-19 coach Rahul Dravid, chief selector Sandeep Patil, GM (Cricket Operations) MV Sridhar, NCA batting coach WV Raman, spin bowling coach Narendra Hirwani were some of the big names who attended yesterday's meeting.

A PTI report said: "For spin coach Hirwani, it will be his duty to ensure that the spinners, who are coming for NCA camps, have clean action before they are taken under Dravid's aegis at the U-19 national team level. Raman will need to co-ordinate more with Dravid, who is also the national U-19 coach."

Top cricket thinkers: NCA batting coach WV Raman (extreme left), NCA spin bowling coach Narendra Hirwani, chief national selector Sandeep Patil, Team India head coach Anil Kumble, limited overs skipper MS Dhoni, BCCI GM (Cricket Operations) MV Sridhar, Test captain Virat Kohli, India ‘A’ team coach Rahul Dravid and physio Andrew Leipus at a roadmap meeting in Bangalore yesterday. Pic/PTI
Top cricket thinkers: NCA batting coach WV Raman (extreme left), NCA spin bowling coach Narendra Hirwani, chief national selector Sandeep Patil, Team India head coach Anil Kumble, limited overs skipper MS Dhoni, BCCI GM (Cricket Operations) MV Sridhar, Test captain Virat Kohli, India ‘A’ team coach Rahul Dravid and physio Andrew Leipus at a roadmap meeting in Bangalore yesterday. Pic/PTI

Sandhu told mid-day yesterday that the talent encountered in the June camp at Patna was impressive. In a general sense, he stressed that while good players get rewarded with U-19 berths for their states, the bowlers who don't make it to those teams need to be groomed and not ignored He agreed that the biggest concern centres around the talent which goes unnoticed.

"I suggest we have zonal camps for such players and the best from those groups be trained at the NCA. A lot of players miss out on under-19 state slots because of lack of opportunities or even pitch conditions. That talent needs to be tapped and sent to the NCA," he said.

Doubtless, yesterday's meeting was a fruitful one. One attendee welcomed the fact that Kumble has continued what former Team Director Ravi Shastri started in terms of such meetings. It is learnt that the NCA is in the process of appointing a pace bowling coach. Meanwhile, Sandhu said he took up another assignment since he was not contacted to be the NCA's pace bowling coach.

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