Twenty20 no way to groom talent

JAVAGAL BOUNCER

Twenty20 no way to groom talent


Javagal Srinath. FILE PHOTO

The Karnataka Cricket Academy (KCA) recently acquired legends Gundappa Viswanath and Syed Kirmani as directors, but long after it was first conceived, it is yet to become operational.

Srinath, always a respected cricketing voice, is now an ICC match referee. The Mysorean has seldom been hesitant to call a spade a spade, though he has often steered cleared of making cutting remarks on a public platform.

While acknowledging that Twenty20 cricket has perhaps come to stay, he is more than a little perplexed by the Karnataka Premier League. “It’s a great format, helping the game reach newer audiences,” he admitted, then shed the initial reluctance and opened up.
“But you have to orient kids towards the longer version first, then introduce them to T20. Don’t make these kids out to be professional T20 players aged 17 and 18. Money at this early stage is very difficult to handle and has a different meaning.”

Echoing Kumble’s views on KPL, Srinath said, “It would have been prudent if the KSCA conducted the event on its own, and then went to sponsors with proper data points. If the concept doesn’t take off, sponsors who have come forward might never return to cricket.” 

The association’s apathy towards the Karnataka Cricket Academy riles Srinath. “There seems to have been a priority shift in the KSCA’s working. You tend to believe an association will contribute to the development of the game and the players, but the indifference towards the KCA is indicative of a clear shift from that thinking.

“Coming from Mysore, I know what it takes to make a mark. When I started out, the only turf wicket in the State was in Bangalore. Nothing has changed -- the only proper pitch in Karnataka today is still at the Chinnaswamy stadium. And while we might be able to use the National Cricket Academy’s resources, the KSCA doesn’t have a basic gym,” he pointed out.

There was an air of disillusionment, Srinath revealed, when he took charge of the academy in 2005-06.

 “The funds allotted for five districts, including Bangalore, was a meagre Rs 20 lakh a year,” Srinath said. “Akai then agreed to sponsor the academy to the tune of an up to Rs 12 crore over a five-year period.”

The funds were to be used to develop cricketing as well as educational skills of kids. “To start with, 25 identified kids in each district would have got advanced cricket training.

Each centre would have adequate turf practice pitches, and at least three turf grounds for first division matches—initially. The cost of education of all 25 till the age of 19 was to have been borne by the Academy,” said Srinath, an engineer.

“Year two would have seen the overall top 25 coming over to the central academy in Bangalore. We struck an arrangement with Jain International Residential School, who agreed to plan education around cricket so that parents could rest assured education wasn’t being compromised.” The Akai deal that would have made the academy functional towards the middle of 2006 didn’t take off. “The 2007 KSCA elections changed equations, with another sponsor promising to provide more for the academy,” he noted. “There has been no progress. Now, not only does the KSCA face a financial loss, three years of precious time too has been lost shaping the kids.”

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