Chances aplenty for State lads ahead of new season

Each new season brings hope with it, so why should this be any different? The domestic first-class season is some distance away, but Karnataka need to address a few key areas quickly, not least finding a successor to coach Vijay R Bharadwaj.

No names have been proferred by KSCA officials, though it is almost certain that the coach will not be someone unfamiliar with the team he will have to mould and guide. Officially, the captain too has yet to be named, but almost by default, that honour should again go to Robin Uthappa.

The powerful right-hander had a mixed first season in charge, firing with the bat in alternate Ranji Trophy games as Karnataka made the quarterfinals, but not exactly firing the imagination with his leadership skills. It must be remembered, though, that that was Uthappa’s first tilt at captaincy. With a longer run, more guidance and awareness, and a desire to learn and improve, there is no reason why Uthappa can’t become a better leader.

It is no secret that KSCA secretary Brijesh Patel has spent time with Uthappa, impressing upon him the traits that go into making a good captain, and the areas where he must keep his eyes and ears open. Additionally, as part of what can be called a long-term process, efforts are on to identify young cricketers who possess leadership qualities, and who can be groomed to take over the State side at a later stage.

“I have asked coaches to keep an eye out for leaders. I have asked them to identify those with captaincy material,” said Patel. “Any rebuilding phase needs strong leaders, and we are working towards that.”

As for the coach, perhaps at some stage in the near future, Anil Kumble will be a wonderful option. Once Kumble’s association with the game as a player is over after IPL III — assuming he wants to call it quits then, that is! — he could well be the man the KSCA could turn to to motivate and inspire the younger lot.

“There is no dearth of talent, nor of hunger in the boys,” Patel said as he reflected on Karnataka’s recent domestic tribulations, including relegation to the Ranji Plate Division in the 2002-03 season. “We need strong leaders, that is paramount.”

As has been the norm, the Karnataka lads won’t be short on quality match-practice leading up to the Ranji season. The August 1-15 Diamond Jubilee tournament will see KSCA XI, KSCA President’s XI and KSCA Colts XI in action. A pool of 30 will then be involved in twin engagements simulataneously, one playing in the Buchi Babu tournament in Chennai, the other a triangular series with the Australian Institute of Sports team and a Maharashtra XI.

Additionally, a Western Australia side will visit the City for a 50-over game and a two-day fixture between September 9 and 11, after which the first edition of the Karnataka Premier League will be staged. No dearth of opportunities, then. The onus is now entirely on the players.

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