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Will the saga of outstation recruits ever end?

By Kausav Baruah
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GUWAHATI, June 7 - After a dismal show in the last season of the Ranji Trophy which saw Assam drop into the bottom-most tier of India�s premier domestic league, the question remains whether the top brass at the Assam Cricket Association (ACA) would still opt for outstation recruits or provide exposure to local talents.

With just around four to five months remaining for the start of BCCI�s domestic season, there are several questions looming high as far as the upcoming season is concerned.

Unable to provide any pre-season match exposure till now with no inter-district tournaments being organised, it would certainly be a Herculean task for the ACA to put things in place ahead of the season.

�We should focus on the infrastructure first and our players. At least there should be four grounds under the ACA in Guwahati. They can approach a college or any organisation for that so that there is ample of match exposure. Instead of paying the outstation players, they can provide match exposure to the local players,� said former Assam Ranji Trophy skipper Zakaria Zuffri. Zuffri who also holds the distinction of donning the Rhino emblem for the most number of times suggested that there should be corporate leagues in place if players need to come up.

�There should be corporate leagues where two-day matches should be played as the inter-districts are usually one-sided matches. Inter-district matches seem to be just a formality and instead two-day club-level matches or corporate matches should be organised.

�Outstation recruits are a �stop-gap� trend which won�t help in the long run. It is like bring three of them for this season and again we will think about it next year. It�s high time that this should stop.�

Although several outstation players have played a pivotal role in guiding Assam to some of the historic feats over the last couple of years, however, the fact which seems to be a real cause of concern is the lack of proper exposure to local talents.

Assam finished their last Ranji Trophy campaign at the bottom of the eight-team Group-B with only one win under their belt.

Former chairman of the selection committee, Naren Sabhapandit suggests that the appointment of a proper batting coach can help in gradually reducing the number of outstation players.

�In a team consisting of 15 players we need at least nine genuine batsmen but unfortunately we don�t have such batsmen to fill up the ranks. So a proper batting coach is the need of the hour. He can be a former Test-level player as there are a lot of technicalities which comes into play as a batsman at the Ranji level. Then only I believe the numbers can be reduced.

�A lot of young players have come up who went on to score centuries at the junior level which is a good sign. But, as far as outstation players are concerned, I believe we should gradually reduce the numbers.

The fact remains that Assam has nothing to lose as they have already been relegated to Group C. It would be yet another sorry tale for some of the players who have proved their mettle in the youth ranks if the ACA goes ahead with their apparent �soft corner� for outstation recruits.

�It all started in the late 1980s with Lalchand Rajput and Chandrakant Pandit followed by players like Sunil Limaye and Sukhvinder Singh. Since then the trend has continued. Assam is in such a stage where they ended up playing the semifinal and then the next season last year dropped to Group C. Earlier the outstation players used to participate in local tournaments including the inter districts,� said Bablu Choudhury, former cricket secretary, Guwahati Sports Association.

Some of the leading outstation players who represented the State include the likes of Amol Muzumdar, Sadagopan Ramesh, Anand Katti, Dheeraj Jadhav, Kiran Powar, S Sharath, Iqbal Khan, Vinayak Samant, Vasanth Sarvanan, Sangram Sawant, Jacob Martin, Onkar Singh, Sairaj Bahutule, among others.

Assam�s inclination towards outstation recruits has been a concern for quite some time now and it is likely to receive an overwhelming reception from the cricket enthusiasts of the State if the ACA decides to look into the matter.

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Will the saga of outstation recruits ever end?

GUWAHATI, June 7 - After a dismal show in the last season of the Ranji Trophy which saw Assam drop into the bottom-most tier of India�s premier domestic league, the question remains whether the top brass at the Assam Cricket Association (ACA) would still opt for outstation recruits or provide exposure to local talents.

With just around four to five months remaining for the start of BCCI�s domestic season, there are several questions looming high as far as the upcoming season is concerned.

Unable to provide any pre-season match exposure till now with no inter-district tournaments being organised, it would certainly be a Herculean task for the ACA to put things in place ahead of the season.

�We should focus on the infrastructure first and our players. At least there should be four grounds under the ACA in Guwahati. They can approach a college or any organisation for that so that there is ample of match exposure. Instead of paying the outstation players, they can provide match exposure to the local players,� said former Assam Ranji Trophy skipper Zakaria Zuffri. Zuffri who also holds the distinction of donning the Rhino emblem for the most number of times suggested that there should be corporate leagues in place if players need to come up.

�There should be corporate leagues where two-day matches should be played as the inter-districts are usually one-sided matches. Inter-district matches seem to be just a formality and instead two-day club-level matches or corporate matches should be organised.

�Outstation recruits are a �stop-gap� trend which won�t help in the long run. It is like bring three of them for this season and again we will think about it next year. It�s high time that this should stop.�

Although several outstation players have played a pivotal role in guiding Assam to some of the historic feats over the last couple of years, however, the fact which seems to be a real cause of concern is the lack of proper exposure to local talents.

Assam finished their last Ranji Trophy campaign at the bottom of the eight-team Group-B with only one win under their belt.

Former chairman of the selection committee, Naren Sabhapandit suggests that the appointment of a proper batting coach can help in gradually reducing the number of outstation players.

�In a team consisting of 15 players we need at least nine genuine batsmen but unfortunately we don�t have such batsmen to fill up the ranks. So a proper batting coach is the need of the hour. He can be a former Test-level player as there are a lot of technicalities which comes into play as a batsman at the Ranji level. Then only I believe the numbers can be reduced.

�A lot of young players have come up who went on to score centuries at the junior level which is a good sign. But, as far as outstation players are concerned, I believe we should gradually reduce the numbers.

The fact remains that Assam has nothing to lose as they have already been relegated to Group C. It would be yet another sorry tale for some of the players who have proved their mettle in the youth ranks if the ACA goes ahead with their apparent �soft corner� for outstation recruits.

�It all started in the late 1980s with Lalchand Rajput and Chandrakant Pandit followed by players like Sunil Limaye and Sukhvinder Singh. Since then the trend has continued. Assam is in such a stage where they ended up playing the semifinal and then the next season last year dropped to Group C. Earlier the outstation players used to participate in local tournaments including the inter districts,� said Bablu Choudhury, former cricket secretary, Guwahati Sports Association.

Some of the leading outstation players who represented the State include the likes of Amol Muzumdar, Sadagopan Ramesh, Anand Katti, Dheeraj Jadhav, Kiran Powar, S Sharath, Iqbal Khan, Vinayak Samant, Vasanth Sarvanan, Sangram Sawant, Jacob Martin, Onkar Singh, Sairaj Bahutule, among others.

Assam�s inclination towards outstation recruits has been a concern for quite some time now and it is likely to receive an overwhelming reception from the cricket enthusiasts of the State if the ACA decides to look into the matter.