Exclusive || Sarfaraz Khan is of a rare breed, Chandrakant Pandit a torchbearer: Amol Mazumdar, Head Coach, Mumbai Ranji Cricket Team

Amol Mazumdar, Head Coach, Mumbai Ranji Cricket Team.

The Board of Control of Cricket in India recently revealed India’s domestic calendar for 2022/23 season and much to everyone’s surprise prestigious tournaments like Duleep Trophy and Irani Cup returned to the calendar. However, Ranji Trophy remains the most competitive and prestigious first-class cricket in the country.

Mumbai has been the force to reckon with in Ranji Trophy. Having won the title for 41 times, Mumbai cricket team is regarded as mightiest of the competition. Although, Mumbai ended as runners-up of 2021-22 season, Amol Mazumdar, former Indian cricketer, domestically and proud head coach of the Mumbai team takes lot of pride in his player and their collective effort. In a candid conversation with The Quotes, Mr. Mazumdar, Head Coach, Mumbai Ranji Cricket Team spoke at length on various subjects related to domestic calendar, Mumbai’s performance in 2021-22 season, Sarfaraz Khan and many more. Excerpts of the conversation.

BCCI recently announced India’s domestic calendar and prolific tournaments like Duleep Trophy and Irani Cup? How do evaluate the importance of these two tournaments in domestic circuit?

Answer: Ever since I can recall both the tournaments have been an integral part of the India’s domestic circuit. I am glad that Duleep trophy is returning in its conventional avatar of an inter-zonal tournament for the first time since 2014-15. Although, Duleep trophy was subject of experiment in between with the introduction of India A, B, C and India Green/Red etc. But Duleep trophy had its essence in term of ‘Zonal’ tournament and fortunately its back to its roots.

Speaking of Ranji Trophy 2021/22 season, Mumbai missed the chance to lift the title once again. Despite scoring so well in the 1st innings, Madhya Pradesh held their never and didn’t lose wickets during the run chase. What went wrong for Mumbai? Do you think bowling was disappointing or Chandrakant Pandit factor worked wonders for MP.

1) We posted good score (375) in the 1st innings including Sarfaraz Khan’s magnificent hundred. The bowlers performed outstanding throughout the tournament but missed to hit the right chords in the final. As they could not capitalize on the given condition on Day 3 which costed us heavily. Madhya Pradesh batted long and held their nerve till the last.

2) I have always been an admirer of Chandrakant Pandit. I was part of the Mumbai team which won two Ranji Trophy titles and he was our coach at that time. I won’t decline the fact that his presence in the dressing room could have been a major factor behind Madhya Pradesh did so well in Ranji Trophy 2021/22. He has been instrumental with every team he is associated and guides them to the title.

Sarfaraz Khan has been in terrific form lately. Scoring 900 plus runs in consecutive two season and playing instrumental role in team’s victory. Another find for Mumbai is Shams Mulani, who was terrific with bat and bowl. Mumbai is known for producing prolific players at international stage. How do see the future of Sarfaraz Khan and Shams?

The performance of both the players speaks volumes of their talent and potential. Both the players have done incredibly well in their respective department. Sarfaraz is the first cricketer to amass successive 900 plus runs in Ranji Trophy. Shams Mulani is another cricketer who was remarkable through out the season. Six 5-wicket hauls in as many as games and truck loads of wickets in the season. Both the player has hit the right chord and I am confident of their bright future.

Speaking of eligibility for international stage, Mumbai skipper Prithvi Shaw grabbed lot of limelight for failing Yo-Yo Test. Even Sarfaraz Khan appears to be overweight and have accepted that he was dropped from RCB because of same reason. 1) As a coach and a guiding force behind Mumbai cricket, how do you tackle these situations and what have you suggested to both the players. 2) Also do you think Yo-Yo test should be considered as an eligibility test for players in domestic circuit.

Answer: There is no denying in the fact that fitness should be given utmost importance but we must refrain ourselves from making it obsession. But I would like to state here that cricket is a skill-oriented game and a cricketer must be aware of using his skill at the right time.

Instead of going haywire with fitness one must seek to maintain the right balance in terms of physical and mental ability.

Sarfaraz and Prithvi, both are highly talented and skilled players and have proven their metal on several occasions. As a coach I am seeking to find the balance between their physical fitness and preparing them skill wise so that they can be ready to play against the best in the game.

2) We are trying to incorporate the standard of Indian team at the domestic level. As far as fitness is concerned, Mumbai Cricket Association has shown utmost seriousness towards the subject and lot of work is in the pipeline in regards with improving fitness of players.

Ahead of 2022/23 season, players like Siddesh Lad and Arjun Tendulkar have moved to GOA, and will represent the state in upcoming season. Arjun Tendulkar missed getting single opportunity in IPL and he faced similar treatment in Mumbai team at domestic level. What’s your take on it?

Answer: I would only wish both of them all the very best for their future games but admitting the fact that both of them will be missed in Mumbai’s dressing room. Siddesh Lad has served Mumbai for a very long time and we are going to miss his service for sure.

You have been pretty vocal about the use of DRS in domestic cricket but BCCI officials have claimed the technology to be pretty expensive. How do you evaluate such comments coming in from the richest cricket body of the world?

Answer: I am not aware of the financial aspect of the technology and its logistic so I won’t comment on that but introduction of DRS in the domestic circuit will only enhance the skills of players to use it well when they advance to bigger stage. Also, we will get ride of howlers when it comes to matches. As far as Team India’s average in using DRS its pretty low so we need to prepare our cricketers/captains/wicket-keepers the trick and skill of using DRS.

What do you have to say about Mahendra Singh Dhoni who was regarded as master of DRS calls?

He had a great skill of understanding his instinct. His cricketing intelligence, acumen and rich experience of playing cricket at different level equipped him with such extraordinary abilities.

Speaking of Chandrakant Pandit sir, KKR has roped him as a coach for next season. For many years coaches in domestic circuit were not considered for primary responsibilities in IPL. Do you think time has arrived when the coaches at domestic circuit should be taken more seriously and BCCI must push their resume further?

I have been staunch supporter of Indian domestic cricket. When I used to play cricket there was a popular myth floated around that there is huge difference in Ranji cricket and international cricket. I have always denied any such thought. If you closely look at the length and breadth of the India’s domestic cricket, players and support staff comprising coaches witness such geographical challenges that it prepares them for every condition in the world. Indian boys play cricket under extreme cold and scorching heat as well.

I would like to say this on record that Indian cricket including players, and coaching staff were always miles ahead of any sorts of cricket being played around the world.

The bottom line here is to believe in our own system and back it. I would like to wish Chandrakant Pandit all the very best for his future IPL stint and I am sure in coming editions Indian coaches will taken into consideration.

Women’s IPL is likely to kick start from next year. Indian women cricket team performed extremely well in recently concluded Commonwealth Games 2022. How do you evaluate recent developments for women’s cricket in India?

Ever since women’s cricket in India came under the umbrella of BCCI it has witnessed some significant improvement. I am confident that Women’s IPL will add more feathers to its cap and we will see some astonishing talent from different regions of the country.

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