Spinners would be hit by ICC move on associates: Balaji Rao

Mumbai: Slamming the International Cricket Council`s move to relegate associate countries like Canada to the confines of T20 cricket in future, former Tamil Nadu leggie Wandavasi Balaji Rao said it would badly hurt the development of slow bowlers.

"Spinners have no role in T20 cricket unlike in Tests and even the 50-over games. There is no scope for the younger spinners to develop through T20. The ICC`s decision to ask us to play only T20 cricket would kill spin bowling," said the 33-year-old Balaji who qualified to play for Canada in 2008 after emigrating to the North American nation in 2003.

The ICC has decided to reduce the number of teams for the 2015 World Cup from the current 14 to 10, much to the chagrin of these minnows of the game.

The World Twenty20 would be a 16-team affair including Associate members.

The former India A and under 19 cricketer, who has played alongside and against former Test slow bowlers Venkatapathy Raju and Anil Kumble, instead wants ICC to give more exposure to players from countries like Canada against top nations on a regular basis.

"The ICC should give us more exposure against top teams like India and Australia to help us improve. They should fund us more too," said Balaji who is playing in his first World Cup after missing the qualification four years ago.

Balaji said among the major problems in the game taking roots in his adopted nation are the weather and absence of enough turf wickets.

"We can play for three and a half months in a year only, between June and early September before winter sets in. There are only five turf wickets in Toronto," he said.

According to Balaji, who played in 33 first class matches and captured 94 wickets before migrating to Canada, more turf tracks are coming up at Calgary and Montreal.

Referring to Canada`s performance in the ongoing World Cup, Balaji said the team`s bowlers had done well to restrict the rivals to reasonably small totals but the batsmen have not followed suit.

"Our bowlers have done well in keeping down the opposition scores, but our batsmen need to forge together more partnerships. We can do better," said the player who works for an insurance company in Canada.

Canada, placed in Group A, have lost three and won one out of the four matches they have played thus far. They take on group leaders New Zealand next, at the Wankhede Stadium here on March 13 in a day match.

Rao, who is married to a Sri Lankan, expressed his happiness at the changed infrastructure in the country of his birth.

"There`s an amazing change in the infrastructure. I have played all my life at Chennai and there`s a vast change there (M A Chidambaram Stadium). The Ferozshah Kotla too has undergone major changes with all those stands. I have seen pictures of the new Wankhede Stadium too," gushed the player whose father lives in the southern metropolis.

The portly leggie would get a feel of the revamped Wankhede Stadium tomorrow with the Canada team scheduled to practice there in the morning.


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