South Africa net bowlers are as good as Ranji Trophy bowlers: Wriddhiman Saha
New Delhi: No one in this current Indian team knows how it feels to be a `journeyman cricketer` more than Wriddhiman Saha but he says that facing some quality net bowlers in Australia and South Africa can also be seen as a gain when one doesn`t get a chance to play in Tests.
As he gets ready for another series as a member of the Test squad, the 29-year-old Bengal stumper knows fully well that he might again have to mix the electrolyte drinks for his mates unless something horribly goes wrong but is trying to keep himself motivated about the upcoming tour.
"The motivation is to improve a bit more as a cricketer. If you ask me how then I would say that facing the local net bowlers in South Africa and Australia is a learning experience.
"Trust me most of the net bowlers in these countries can walk into the Indian first-class sides," Wriddhiman said during an interaction after Bengal team`s practice at the Air Force ground in Palam.
"How many times do you get an opposition bowler hitting 140 kmph plus consistently in Ranji Trophy? May be you will get one in some top teams and none in most of the teams.
"Getting some serious knocking against these fast blokes will only make me a better player. And selection is not in my hands, so I should do what`s there in my hands. Train hard and be ready to give my 100 per cent."
Wriddhiman is also unsure about getting a go during the two-day match against South African Invitational XI at Benoni.
"That`s the only red ball practice match that the team will get. Obviously the first XI boys would like to have a go before the Test match begins. I am keeping my fingers crossed. If I get a chance to play that game, it will be good for me," Saha said.
His last away tour with the Indian team was in Australia and Wriddhiman enjoyed a good domestic season after that.
"After playing Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus in that Adelaide Test, I suddenly found that facing domestic bowlers, I had that extra second to negotiate. That makes a lot of difference in shot selection. I had back-to back centuries in Duleep Trophy after coming back from Australia," Wriddhiman recollected.
But one thing is for sure. Wriddhiman would like to get a few more opportunities in the Indian Premier League where he is playing for Chennai Super Kings under national skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s stewardship.
"It`s been a great experience being with CSK but the moment I was picked by them at the auctions, I knew fully well that opportunities will be limited," he conceded.
Wriddhiman maintains that he is a keeper first and will like to remain that way.
"I still maintain that I am a keeper first and then a batsman. Obviously, I would like to make significant contributions with the bat but my primary job is to keep wickets well," replied the Siliguri-lad, who has a healthy first-class average of nearly 45 from 59 matches with seven centuries under his belt.
Time and again he has been offered the state captaincy and he has declined.
"I am ready to offer my inputs to the captain but leadership is something that I have never ever enjoyed. I don`t like being the captain. Period."
He has three 50`s from three Ranji Trophy games this season and he attributes it to some poor shot selection and unlucky decisions.
"I believe I got one harsh decision (vs Saurashtra) and couple of deliveries shot up from the rough but no excuses. I should have at least converted my starts," said Wriddhiman, whose sequence of scores has been 78, 39, 69, 28, 52 in the five innings so far.