Indian youth team coach Rahul Dravid strongly believes that the BCCI’s decision to restrict players to play only U19 World Cup will prevent age fudging by players.
Indian players like Ravindra Jadeja (20016-2008), Sandeep Sharma (2010-2012), Sarfaraz Khan (2014-2016), Ricky Bhui (2014-2016) and Avesh Khan (2014-2016) have played the U-19 World Cup twice.
“Being allowed to play only one U-19 World Cup will mean people are less motivated to alter the age. Honestly, U-19 cricket should be more about exposure and less about results.
The focus should be on giving more youngsters an opportunity to play rather than on winning. And that’s what this new rule will result in. The long term results of this step will far outweigh the potential loss of results in the short term,” said Dravid.
The 43 year years old Indian batting great, who has taken over the coaching of the U-19 team and India -A team, felt BCCI’s decision will make a positive impact on the upcoming generations.
“Really glad that the BCCI is taking some steps to try to address the overage issue. There is no quick fix to it but at least a step in the right direction has been taken. The age fudging issue is a major problem and I see it having an adverse impact on the development of cricketers and the continued participation of more deserving people in the game.”
Dravid in the 2015 Tiger Potoudi Annual Lecture has emphasized on age fudging. Dravid wants BCCI to build a mechanism to check the birth certificate of budding cricketers.
“Another practice that is prevalent is people getting young kids at 10-12 to change schools and obtain new birth certificates. Unfortunately, I have heard that getting a new birth certificate isn’t too hard. The BCCI needs to make a rule that birth certificates are eligible only if they are dated within two years of the child’s birth.
“We might miss out on a few authentic guys who for some reason haven’t been able to obtain a birth certificate, but it will be a strong deterrent to the many wrongdoers and will make age group cricket a much fairer reflection of talent,” Dravid reasoned.
According to Dravid, two years of age group competitions at the national level is enough for a young cricketer to graduate to the next level.
“The move to allow players who enter the set up only at the U-19 level to play only two years of U-19 cricket is not a bad idea but needs to be monitored and evaluated at the ground level.
“We have heard of instances where players skip the bone test at the U-16 level and play many years at the U-19 level.
This may prove a deterrent to that kind of people. Cricketers at that level, if they are good enough, two years of U-19 cricket should be enough for them to graduate to the next level,” explained the former Indian captain.
“In any case, there are U-23 matches which provide another platform. There is no purpose being served by having youngsters continue to play 3-4 years at the U-19 level especially if they have entered the scene after the age of 16-17,” Dravid said.
Indian boys have won the U-19 World Cup thrice and have been runners up in 2016 edition when Dravid was the coach. Dravid wants focus should be on the junior cricketers to play more cricket.
“One way to strengthen the junior cricket set up is to shift the focus from the U-19 World Cup and have more tours with more long form cricket and not just One Day cricket.
“The team selected for these tours need not necessarily be the best 15 always but selected from a wider pool of about 20-25 players. We should look at these series to give opportunities to more youngsters to give them a taste of international cricket at the junior level.”
Dravid also emphasized that touring overseas will also help players to develop their temperament.
“Having more kids tour overseas will mean more future first class cricketers would have experienced playing in different conditions and that will certainly help in improving domestic cricket as well. Apart from the cricket, it will give a chance for more youngsters to experience other cultures which will aid their overall development,” concluded Dravid.