Mumbai: Under-performers Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina need to tighten up their batting considerably with the former in need of improving the shot selection and the latter requiring to play the short balls with more conviction, feels former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar.
In an interview, the former chief selector hailed the decision of the selectors to anoint Virat Kohli as the new vice-captain under Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the upcoming Asia Cup and felt that the Delhi youngster seemed to be on the course to make the number three Test slot his own.
Expressing disappointment with the Indian team`s performance in Australia, where Dhoni`s men suffered a 4-0 whitewash in Tests and failed to make it to the finals of the tri-series, Vengsarkar advised the BCCI to make it mandatory for the contracted players to play in the Duleep Trophy.
He was happy that the BCCI`s technical committee has started to do something to improve domestic cricket and felt no purpose is served if Duleep Trophy is played at the end of the season, as is the case this time.
According to the former middle-order batsman known for his majestic drives, the sequence should be Irani Cup (between Ranji winners and the rest), Duleep and Ranji.
Q: Are you disappointed by the performance of Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina? What do you think went wrong?
Vengsarkar: Rohit played a lot of loose shots. He needs to tighten his technique if he has to succeed at Test level. He has the potential to succeed, but that has to be complimented by performance. Raina, on the other hand, will have to sort out his technical flaw against the short-pitched deliveries. For, he will get plenty of it at the international level, especially abroad.
Q: Virat Kohli's elevation as vice captain? Is he going to be the future star and batting mainstay?
V: I feel it's a wise decision to elevate Virat as the vice-captain. He is not only in tremendous form, but if he continues to be consistent and stays focused, he should be at the helm in time to come, in may be, 3-4 years.
Q: Is Kohli the ideal man to bat at number three when Rahul Dravid leaves the scene in Tests?
V: I guess so. His technique is tighter than that of Rohit Sharma and (he) is mentally tougher than any young cricketer in the squad at present. He adapts quickly to the conditions and is a smart thinker.
Q: Your views on Indian team's overall performance Down Under?
V: Extremely disappointing. But then the Indian team was playing against the West Indies just before they left for Australia. There was hardly any time to prepare for the tough tour. Worse, the itinerary allowed the players only one side game before they played the first Test match. However, I thought they would lift their game at least after the first Test, but that didn't happen and they were completely outplayed match after match.
Q: What needs to be done now to put Indian cricket back on track?
V: The BCCI must get serious about domestic cricket. The quality of our junior and first class cricket needs huge improvement. The quality of wickets must improve and so does the overall infrastructure. The programme for under-19 tours besides 'A' team tours must be planned so as to get maximum returns. There should be an easy transition into international cricket for the performers in domestic cricket.
Q: India, barring an expected series in Sri Lanka in July-August (according to ICC Future Tours Programme), will be playing at home against New Zealand, Australia and England. How should the new selection panel (in September) approach the job?
V: The selectors need to spot talent and try and groom it by giving opportunity at the right time. They will have to build the bench strength which is almost absent at present. Since India will be playing most of its series at home, it will be an ideal time to do so.
Q: You are passionate about domestic cricket. Is it time to bring back the TRDO scheme (Talent Resource Development Officers) which you were part of in the past?
V: It was a very important wing of the BCCI that played a great role in spotting talent at the junior level. However, it requires former players with passion and dedication to do the job.
Q: Wickets in domestic cricket... Is enough being done on this front?
V: I am glad that the technical committee has taken some firm decisions regarding domestic cricket. I only hope they are implemented uniformly. Yes, a lot has to be done regarding quality of wickets, for only then there will be an improvement in the overall standard of our domestic cricket.
Q: The new (proposed) schedule of domestic cricket starts with Duleep and then Ranji and Irani? Is it the right order?
V: The right order would be Irani, Duleep, Ranji. What's the point in playing Duleep Trophy, our supposedly best tournament, at the fag end of the season? What purpose will it serve? In fact the BCCI must make it mandatory for all contracted players to play in Duleep Trophy.
Q: Bowling cupboard looks bare because of injuries to fast men and lack of form of others. How do you nurture a promising talent like Umesh Yadav?
V: I believe there is a mass selection for bowlers in different parts of the country. It's a good idea and I hope we find at least a dozen quality fast and spin bowlers at the end of this exercise.
Q: Your views on the BCCI's specialised academies and the NCA? Are they doing enough?
V: The specialised academies are a joke to put it mildly. It's not only a waste of money but time as well. How many players have emerged from these so called academies in the last three years? Everybody knows what kind of bowlers bowl to these specialised batsmen and who bats against the specialized bowlers. They should discontinue such futile exercise and revamp the NCA instead to be more productive.