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Shadow Tours Before Senior Tours Key to Grooming Young Talent: MSK Prasad

Touching on the much talked about future of former captain MS Dhoni, the Chairman of Selectors maintained his stand of backing youth.

Cricketnext Staff |February 6, 2020, 2:27 PM IST
Shadow Tours Before Senior Tours Key to Grooming Young Talent: MSK Prasad

Often questioned for his lack of experience as an India player, the outgoing Chairman of the selection committee MSK Prasad says he is proud that the shadow tours of the India A side have ensured that the senior team has a back-up option for every player.

The former wicket-keeper batsman, who held the Chairman’s post for three years, cited the likes of Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Hanuma Vihari and Prithvi Shaw as examples of this exercise.

“Players are identified on the basis of consistency in the last two years in major domestic events. Then, they are given the India-A platform to show their skills,” Prasad told Sportstar.

“The shadow tours, one month before the seniors’ tours, are the key to our central idea of building the reserve strength. So, we take pride in the grooming process of young talent or what you call the bench strength.”

“All the managements of India-A, the Indian senior team and the NCA are involved in this planning of player succession. We identified a pool of 25 to 30 players and groomed them. In addition, we also picked 60 to 70 players from domestic cricket, apart from India-A. We are watching them. For the next six to eight years, there need not be any worry about any department.”

According to Prasad the bench strength keeps the keeps the senior members motivated and under pressure, which he says is something players have to accept and work with. He further explains that the workload is monitored for every player and that an injured player’s comeback depends on the situation on hand.

“The workload database is always there. A chart is prepared for each player. We all sit together and take a decision on a particular player.”

“An injured player on comeback will be given preference if he has been performing well prior to the break. Well, if someone else comes in and does extremely well, he will definitely have a better chance. So, one has to wait. A judgement has to be made depending on that particular case.”

When probed about being considered the ‘lightweight’ in the selection panel Prasad says it is his management skills that got him through and acknowledges that he always backed himself to be a selector.

“It is about winning the confidence of the heavyweights. I always keep saying that it is not important as to how many matches you have played before becoming a selector. It depends as to how good you are in management. I am a management student. So, the team management should have confidence in us. Earlier, there were public spats on selection. But, never in our term. Well, it is good to have a difference of opinion. Because of our management skills, the transition of teams or players was very smooth.”

“I always thought I could be a selector, but never the chairman of the panel (laughs). What I have handled in BCCI so far is not even 10 per cent of what I did in Andhra. For everything there is a system in the BCCI. So, all that we can do in BCCI is to add a few more dimensions which are successful. And, we take pride in the number of success stories in the Indian team, as most of them were groomed by us in the last two or three years. This is what gives us great satisfaction.”

Prasad, who understandably cites the tours of South Africa and England as the major disappointments during his tenure, believes that India had a bad a rare bad day in the semi-final against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup.

The 44-year-old, who said one selector always travels with the senior team, believes that their processes has helped discussions with the team management.

“Whenever you discuss with the team management with an unbiased and open mind, you gain confidence. We come out with names with which they are comfortable, for they are based on performances, with a thorough process behind that. Earlier, some unknown faces were thrown up. This never happened in our term. Every player is groomed in a systematic way, like Shreyas Iyer was for two years with India-A. And look at Navdeep Saini, a raw pacer from Delhi. We picked him for the Board President’s XI team. And, he is doing very well now.”

Touching on the much talked about future of former captain MS Dhoni, the Chairman of Selectors maintained his stand of backing youth.

“As far as we are concerned, we are backing youngsters and giving them as many opportunities to settle well and play long. Mahi will take a decision for himself. As a panel member, if I keep professional duty aside, I am as big a fan of Dhoni as anyone else. He has achieved everything under the sun winning two World Cups, the Champions Trophy, the No. 1 Status in Tests. Nobody can question that. About his career, he will take a call. As selectors, our duty is to move on and identify the next generation of players and keep giving them chances.”

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5211 116
2 New Zealand 3959 110
3 Australia 4320 108
4 England 5253 105
5 South Africa 3537 98
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6967 124
2 India 7939 118
3 New Zealand 5347 116
4 South Africa 5602 112
5 Australia 5915 110
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8926 270
2 Australia 7815 269
3 England 6407 267
4 India 12141 264
5 South Africa 6220 259
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