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Murali: Want at least one or two to represent India

Jagmohan Dalmiya

Calcutta: It has been termed Vision 2020, the Cricket Association of Bengal’s (CAB) ambitious project aimed at producing world-class players from the state, but Sourav Ganguly hopes that the target will be achieved much earlier.

“It’s just the name... We had to give a name and we thought this is just appropriate. If we take six years to produce players, it will be too late.

“We have to do it quickly... With the expertise we have at hand, I’m sure Bengal cricket will produce good players. The quicker, the better...” the former India captain said at the launch on Saturday.

Former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis and spin legend Muttiah Muralidharan, who will be the pace and spin consultants, were present at the function.

“We want to do something special… I realise the need of having the expertise to take Bengal players forward.

“These youngsters need special guidance… You can’t have better persons than Waqar and Murali,” said Sourav, who himself will be the batting consultant.

The brainchild of Sourav, Vision 2020 will be about identifying and nurturing talent from the grassroots level.

“Survival and performing at the international level is not just about talent, it’s about assessing the situation, changing and improving your game accordingly…. It’s not just about how you bat and bowl, but also about what’s there in between.

“It’s a long-term process, not just for a year. Initially Waqar and Murali have been roped in for three years, but we hope the association will be for a longer period of time. We will also involve the Bengal coaches.

“We’re trying to build a centre of excellence for Bengal cricket. This is just the beginning. We want to be like Mumbai or Karnataka, who keep producing players. Hopefully, we’ll be able to succeed… It’s a process. The intention is to help everyone,” explained Sourav.

“The basic intention is to try and produce players, to take Bengal cricket, and ultimately Indian cricket, forward.

“It’s not just about Bengal… Bengal has a huge place in Indian cricket. We want to make the supply line consistent for the next few years... There’s enough talent. We have to develop the mindset.”

Waqar and Murali sounded confident about their roles. “I honestly believe there’s so much talent in this part of the world... It gets wasted sometimes. If we can pick them up, try and groom and polish them... I come from a very small area in Pakistan, you won’t find it on the map.

“It’s about taking the right step… If I can help these fast bowlers, groom them properly, I’ll be more than happy,” said the legendary fast bowler.

Murali, on the other hand, is aiming high. He revealed that he wants to see at least one or two players from the camp represent India.

The legendary spinner also stressed on the need to keep a track of the players’ performance during their absence.

“It’s a great opportunity to pass on some experience to young cricketers… I’m here to coach them. I want to make sure whatever experience I pass on, makes them better cricketers.

“I want to make sure at least one/two represent India. I will try my best. I need the help of the district coaches…” said the highest wicket-taker.

“We will monitor their performance depending on their age groups and also their past records. We will see whether he’s good enough to be in the camp for the next three years. It’s about the players putting in the effort as well.

Elaborating on his suggestion to keep a track on the players’ development, Murali floated the idea that using technology, a record of the players could be maintained and that he could access them even from his home land, Sri Lanka.

“I have a suggestion… We need to have a tracking system, using technology. Even in Sri Lanka, I will be able to keep a track of the players.

“Definitely it will help when we’ll watch the players all the time. Most importantly, it will be about how closely you are monitoring the players,” said Murali.

Sourav, too, echoed Murali’s words. “Spinners have been a problem for Bengal… Good that we will get Murali’s expertise... The assistant coaches’ role will also be very important.”

Sourav also had a word of encouragement for the senior Bengal team, which suffered a five-wicket loss in a Vijay Hazare Trophy semi-final match, against the Railways, on Friday.

According to Sourav, the way Bengal have fought this season has been refreshing.

“The way you fought and progressed this season was refreshing… I’m happy to see the progress this season.”

But he reminded that there’s always the next level and that should be the team’s next target.

“ I will be disappointed if we don’t make further progress next year. The way you have played this season made us all proud. It’s not just about winning, but about going forward as well,” he said to the team.

The Vision 2020 project is aimed at making that dream possible.