Key challenge for Abhinav will be to maintain the momentum and carry his good form on to the next stage- TN Selector
In an exclusive interview with S.Prabhu, R. Madhavan, Member, Tamil Nadu State Senior selection committee talks about the prospects for Abhinav Mukund, the 17 year old south paw who has been making tons of runs in the recent past.
Madhavan represented Board President’s XI, India under-25 and under-19 teams in the late1970s and early 80s. He played for Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy and South Zone in Duleep & Deodhar Trophy tourneys in the mid 80s. He is a Qualified Level 1 coach of the NCA (National Cricket Academy). He was the Chairman of the TamilNadu state under-19 cricket selection Committee 2006-07 and is a current member of the TamilNadu State Senior selection committee
Q. What is your take on Abhinav?
R. Madhavan(RM): I have been watching him closely over the last year or so. He is strong off the back foot and that will be a great asset for him, especially at higher levels of cricket when (hopefully) opening the batting against top class fast bowlers. He has a good temperament, is mentally tough and quite determined to succeed. And he has improved his fielding and running between the wickets in the recent past. As a leg spinner, he could come in handy too.
Q. Given Abhinav’s recent run of big scores (double century and a hundred the U19 test in July and his 90 odd in the BuchiBabu in August), will Abhinav gain entry into the TN Ranji team this year?
RM: It is a little premature to talk about that now. However, Abhinav has Yo-Mahesh to look up to. Yo played and performed very well for the India U19 team last year and went on to perform very well in the Ranji, Duleep and Irani trophy tournaments and is currently on the short list of the Indian senior team. Abhinav can look to emulate him.
Q. What’s the key for Abhinav in the year(s) ahead?
RM: Abhinav has been at the forefront in all the age groups he has played so far- U13, U15, U17… and recently in U19. The double hundred and the century against Sri Lanka in the recent under 19 test match was just the right kind of knock that would have given him confidence (at the beginning of the season) to break into a higher grade of cricket. The next 3-4 years will be crucial for him. The key challenge for him now will be to maintain the momentum and carry this on to the next stage.
Q. Any words of caution for Abhinav?
RM: While his back foot stroke play is solid and will help him get a lot of runs, he may also have to be careful to use it discreetly. At higher levels, it would be important for him to play in the V during the initial stages before he cashes in on his strengths – the cut and pull and the drives.
Q. What about the possibility of a formal and structured plan to groom talented youngsters come up the grade and make the transition school/college cricket to first division and Ranji Trophy a lot easier. Also, Do you as a selector talk to the upcoming cricketers to give them the confidence of scaling up to the next level?
RM : It's a good thought in terms of policy but will have to be a longer process for grooming youngsters. Ideally, one should look at a 5-10 year plan for TN cricket that would help identify, create and groom potentially talented cricketers to help them scale up to the next level- and hopefully national duties. I am sure this will be high on the agenda of the TNCA academy which recently inaugurated its indoor facilities.
As selectors, we do talk to the youngsters at various age levels and in different perspectives. All four selectors in the current state selection committee are qualified coaches and that helps.