Dilip Vengsarkar always comes across as a man who speaks his mind as he used to bat – in a forthright manner.
He did just that way on Saturday evening at the Meet the Media programme organised by the Mumbai Press Club, where the former India skipper and ex-national chief selector also gave away the awards for the best video stories instituted by the club.
The 116-Test veteran, who said he still relished the role of the talent spotter for the Board of Control for Cricket in India that he performed in the past, is currently a member of the BCCI’s apex players’ council.
Excerpts of his interaction with the media:
On the future of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in T20 Internationals:
Both are great players. Over the years they have won many matches. There is still a lot of cricket in them. They will be back (in T20s). Regarding Tests, they are an integral part of the Indian team. I am a huge fan of both. They are still in great shape physically and mentally (even though both are in their mid 30s). I always believe as a selector that form and fitness are important. Age is no criteria in cricket. Virat Kohli is supremely fit. I still believe they will play in all formats of the game.
Yes, you have to look at future and groom players as well and at the right time. If I was a selector I would have picked (young Jammu and Kashmir fast bowler) Umran Malik for the Bangladesh Test series. Pace is very important and he can unsettle batsmen with his pace. We don’t have many who can bowl in the 150s (KMPHs). This guy will play havoc when we visit England, Australia or the West Indies.
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The Indian team:
The Indian team are doing extremely well in all forms of the game although the big prize has eluded us. It is important for players to adapt to different formats. If I play a five-day or four-day game, I should not play the reverse sweep and get out. I believe Test cricket is very important as it tests the skill, maturity and toughness of the player to the fullest. Most of the players who play Tests can play T20 cricket too.
Future of 50-over format:
Fifty-over format too is important. You see the best of cricket in one day itself. And in India it attracts a full house. People say the middle overs become monotonous but spinners can get wickets in that period and get you back into the game. If you see the 1985 Benson and Hedges World Championship (held in Australia), our spinners Ravi Shastri and L Sivaramakrishnan bowled brilliantly in those middle overs. It was one of the things that was instrumental in us winning the Cup.
On top players not available to play domestic cricket:
In south, in Bangalore, you can play even in July to September period. It is very important for all international players to play in domestic cricket, at least the Irani Cup and Duleep Trophy. Otherwise these tournaments become an exercise in futility. At least if all players play in these tournaments for one month it will be easier to select the best. It is just a question of one month that should be given (by all players) to domestic cricket. I feel very strongly about this.
Duleep Trophy inter zonal format:
It is the ideal format (and not the teams named Green, Blue and Red). There should be a sense of belonging. In the zonal system the team is picked (by zonal selectors) based on performance (irrespective of age). They may be older cricketers too. You can learn from older cricketers. Only fringe players will be picked by national selectors, those who will soon be playing for India, and not older players.
BCCI presidents appearing in online gaming ads:
I think I will leave this ball outside the off stump.
Whether India should go and play in Pakistan or they should come here and play:
I think it should be left to the government to guide us.
Jasprit Bumrah inducted into ODi team straightaway after recovering from injury:
It is up to the selectors. Of course match fitness is important and the selectors will know (from reports filed physios etcetera) who are all match fit.
Ranji Trophy format:
I would like to have at least ten best teams in the elite group and the rest (in plate group). Sikkim got out for 6 runs. That should not happen. There should be an easy transition from domestic to Test cricket. Playing against good teams makes you raise the bar and the transition is easier. When I played for Dadar Union at the age of 15, I could play with Test cricketers.
Over-coaching of players:
I believe in guiding and not coaching players. If you have to coach players then they are not good enough. Every player has got his own technique. How you adapt to different conditions depends on you and your mental maturity. I always believe that the players who can adapt quickly, who can improvise, are what matter to me. If you are coaching these guys (then) they lose their natural ability. Those who have done Level 1, 2, 3 coaching courses — it is good. But it is more important to know how and when to implement your knowledge (gained from these courses).
The upcoming four-Test series at home against Australia:
India will do very well against Australia who are a very good side. It will be a good game of cricket.
Importance of current players facing top spinners in domestic cricket:
We could play a lot of club and domestic cricket. We had the best spinners at that time and we could prepare day in and out. Later it came to a stage that to get out to a spinner was a crime – that was in our mind. Someone like Abdul Qadir (of Pakistan) will get to play only the first two Tests against us and then he will be dropped. You can spot good spinners as well.
Playing against the short ball:
(Current) Indian team plays the short ball very well. In the past a lot of players, who did extremely well in domestic cricket, couldn’t handle the short ball in international cricket and lost out. How you play the short ball in international cricket is extremely important. I have not seen any one (in the current team or in IPL) flinching when playing the short ball.