Vijay Patil: Mumbai cricket needs to upgrade
Newly-elected MCA president backs talent-spotting schemes and the need to identify responsibility towards fans
New Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) president Vijay Patil has his task cut out as MCA goes through administrative transition with a new constitution as per the Justice Lodha Committee reforms approved by the Supreme Court.
mid-day caught up with Patil, the creator of the DY Patil Stadium in Nerul, to discuss issues plaguing Mumbai cricket and what he sets out to achieve in the three-year tenure.
What's your vision for Mumbai cricket?
Mumbai cricket has a glorious past. We have produced so many international cricketers of world fame. That tradition continues so it's important we create an ecosystem which allows exceptional talent to come through. For that, it is necessary to upgrade. Mumbai cricket, fortunately, has excellent infrastructure. It is important that we put the right human resources like physios, trainers and coaches who will meet the aspirations of the players.
Another focus is on talent identification. It is important to have good talent-spotting programmes. In the 1990s, we had a bowling scheme (BCA-Mafatlal) in which Frank Tyson was involved. We got so many talented fast bowlers from that scheme. This is something which needs emphasis. We also want to identify our responsibility towards fans, who are the driving force of this game. As custodians of the game in the city, it is important we take into consideration the requirements of the fans in terms of facilities and match experience. We have a robust infrastructure already in place. It is just about implementation. I am sure, the best of Mumbai cricket is yet to come.
How will you develop grassroot cricket?
Strengthening of school and college cricket is also important. There are so many institutions that are involved in this. The MCA also runs many tournaments in different age groups. Essentially, it is about strengthening office cricket, maidan cricket and inter-collegiate cricket.
Mumbai's cricket at the senior level has taken a bit of a dip in the last few years.
It has not gone downwards, but a lot of the other associations have invested heavily into the sport. If you travel the length and breadth of the country, there is wonderful infrastructure put in place. It gives opportunities to young players to pursue their passion. So, it's just that the game has become more competitive, but we are still producing excellent cricketers. Cricket is a competitive sport, so not winning a trophy is considered a failure because of the high standards Mumbai has set. Yes, to get better consistency, it is certainly important that we take the advice of cricketers of high repute that we have produced. There will be a complete demarcation of administration and cricketing decisions.
Tournaments need to be organised in a better way; that's surely an area we will focus on. When it comes to junior cricket, the roles of schools and colleges will be huge. As far as age-fudging is concerned, we will have zero-tolerance; it seriously impacts players. We have to work in synergy with the various institutions who run various tournaments.
Does the Kanga League need a review?
Kanga League has a rich tradition. It has produced so many great cricketers. One of the things that affect the league is the weather. It made a lot of sense when cricket internationally was played on uncovered pitches. But the reality is that cricket is almost impossible to play in the first two months of the monsoon, considering the weather conditions. So, we need to look at the scheduling.
Since you are at the helm now, will we see international cricket being played at the DY Patil Stadium?
As far the DY Patil Stadium is concerned, we have had some great opportunities. It was one of the venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The stadium is also under consideration for the U-17 women's World Cup. A lot of tournaments take place there and there is cricket going on through local tournaments. As of now, it is not high on my agenda. My No. 1 priority is the aspirations we have for Mumbai cricket.
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