Pointing out that the New Zealand- bound players have lost a good chance of gaining some vital match practice ahead of the tour, former captain Rahul Dravid feels that they could have played in the quarter- finals of the Ranji Trophy, starting on Wednesday.
In a panel discussion on ESPN Cricinfo, the legendary batsman said that players like Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar should have been allowed to play for their respective states.
“Well, I think there was a good opportunity and a case to allow these players play for their teams in the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals. There is a gap of seven days before the first ODI (January 19). I am sure these six could have joined the team a day or two later as it has happened earlier,” Dravid said.
The BCCI is not allowing any of the six players — Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane (Mumbai), Mohammed Shami (Bengal), Stuart Binny (Karnataka), Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Suresh Raina (UP) to play for their states as the ODI squad is flying off to New Zealand on January 12 - the last day of the quarter- final.
Dravid’s former teammate Venkatesh Prasad, who is now Uttar Pradesh’s coach, has also voiced his disappointment at BCCI’s decision.
“You want the best players in the tournament to compete. It also helps the youngsters in the squad who can only learn from the international players,” Prasad told ESPN Cricinfo. Prasad said he failed to understand the hurry in sending the players specifically on Sunday when India are scheduled to play their first match only a week later.
“They could have departed a day later. In any case, they are playing their first match on January 19,” he added.
Dravid feels that someone like Bhuvneshwar would have gained by getting ideal match- time in the quarters as he hasn’t played competitive cricket for more than a month now.
“If I would have been Bhuvneshwar, I would have liked to play. He may have bowled a lot in the nets but he hasn’t played any match for over a month. May be from Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane’s perspective, they could have asked for a break after a gruelling series. But they are young kids, who would have wanted to take Mumbai to the last four stage,” Dravid said.
Dravid also said that if likes of Rohit and Rahane play in Ranji Trophy, it raises the profile of the tournament.
“I am not saying that BCCI doesn’t value Ranji Trophy. They do value a lot but if these boys play, it raises profile of the event. Since the match (Mumbai vs Maharashtra) would be telecast live, people while flipping through channels, if they find Rohit batting, they would just hang around and watch a bit more,” he added.
Dravid said that the players’ presence would have benefited the teams’ immensely.
“Some of these guys, like Shami for Bengal, are really valuable players for their teams. Obviously, their opponents won’t mind them not playing,” he said.
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