As Indian domestic cricket circuit tries to reinvent itself, the legendary Sachin Tendulkar on Saturday suggested that every Ranji Trophy game should be played on two different pitches to prepare a better Test team for overseas assignments.
He also had an interesting take on how to make bilateral Test series engaging — by having back-to-back home-and-away rubbers so that the strength of two teams remains mostly constant but the conditions change to make for a bigger challenge.
However, it is Tendulkar’s suggested innovations of two different pitches for a single Ranji match which will make anyone sit up and take notice.
“I have thought a lot about neutral venues in Ranji Trophy (which is being experimented this season). I have a suggestion which can be radical. When we go to places like Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa, we play with kookaburra balls which swings early. Think about a young Ranji batsman playing with SG Test in India and then facing difficulty overseas,” Tendulkar spoke at Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. “Let us have the first innings on a green top with kookaburra balls which would give openers a challenge. Even bowlers will have something. Our spinners will also learn how to bowl with kookaburra on Green tops,” Tendulkar explained.
“Now let there be a pitch adjacent to the green top which would be a rank Turner. Now the second innings will be played on that track with the SG Test ball which would also help our batsmen play against quality spin bowling. We have been too focussed on playing pace in overseas conditions but we should not forget how to play spin bowling. Don’t forget even overseas teams are losing to us in India. May be they would start using SG in their domestic matches.”
For Tendulkar, two pitches, two balls in two innings of a match takes Curator preparing designer pitches out of the equation and also nullifies the toss factor. “A captain would start thinking that winning the toss will give him only 10 percent advantage that is his right to choose first. But if he chooses to bowl on green top he should remember that he would need to bat on a Turner in the fourth innings,” he said making it clear that it may or may not click.
About the dwindling crowd in Test cricket, Tendulkar blamed lack of rivalry in the longest format that has affected the interest in the sport not to forget the emergence of Twenty20.
“When we grew up we had rivalries like Sunil Gavaskar vs Imran Khan, Viv Richards vs Jeff Thomson and then (Brian) Lara vs Glenn McGrath or Steve Waugh vs Curtly Ambrose. West Indies team in ‘80s and ‘90s generated interest. The target then was to beat the West Indies,” he lamented. Asked what could be a solution, Tendulkar said, “Look we went to England in 2014 and lost the series. Now England are down in this series and since 2014, they have lost a couple of players. My suggestion is to have back to back matches against same the side home and away. Let us play two Tests in India and then two Tests in England. Same set of players but different venues. Obviously there will be some changes in terms of form and injuries but core will be same. That will be a fair contest.”
He was all praise for the current Indian team led by Virat Kohli. “This team reminds me of our times between 2000 and 2011. They have a quality pace and spin attack. We believe that it is the best team in the world.”
Having made it clear that it would be “unwise” to comment on Lodha Committee recommendation as the Supreme Court verdict is still pending, Sachin Tendulkar came out in support of BCCI stating that the parent body has “done a lot for the game in the country”.