Although Assam failed to make it to the knockout stages of the recently concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy, but, the fact remains that they stood equal on the points tally with Uttarakhand – which proceeded into the next round with a better net run-rate. Now, many might argue why Assam couldn’t make it to the next round despite having teams like Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh – to name a few as their opponents. Playing with a mix of youth and experience, the lads did the job quite well, which also saw them qualifying for the Elite Group next season. The biggest plus was the way the youngsters played, especially Denish Das who returned as the highest run-scorer for the team. The 18-year-old from Barpeta scored 267 runs in five matches at an average of 66.75. In the bowling department, Pritam Das scalped eight wickets to be the highest wicket-taker for the State.
But, are these performances enough to catch the eyes of the national selectors? Absolutely not, and, especially when your team is playing in the Plate Group. If we take a look at the stats, Assam only had a 300-plus total in their five matches – 342/8 against Mizoram. That was the reason which stopped the State from progressing into the next round. The campaign also saw one of the most seasoned campaigners – Gokul Sharma – retiring from the limited-overs format. Though he would be playing the days format, Sharma admitted that he took the decision to focus on the longer format and to provide youngsters the platform. One of the major issues haunting the Assam Cricket Association (ACA) has been the absence of proper bench strength. In a bid to find a solution to this problem, the ACA has also come up with the Assam Premier Club Championship, which is into its third edition now. However, the problem still remains as there have hardly been any players coming up through this tournament. Providing a platform is very much required but what one has witnessed till now is the huge gap in standard among the players.
A positive side which comes into light is that the ACA has taken initiative to develop grounds with proper cricket pitches in different places of Assam. Although, it should have been done quite a long time back, but credit must go to them. Especially, for the initiative to bring back the iconic Nehru Stadium in Guwahati to its original shape where cricket as well as football will be played again like the good old times. Despite Guwahati being the cricketing hub of the State, the grounds which once used to produce some of the finest players are in a dilapidated condition today.