The Telegraph
Wednesday , January 8 , 2014
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‘6 players could’ve played quarters’

Calcutta: Rahul Dravid feels that players like Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar should have been allowed to play for their respective states in the Ranji Trophy quarter final that starts from Wednesday.

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 (Uttar Pradesh) — to play for their states as the India ODI squad is flying off to New Zealand in the wee hours of January 12.

Now, January 12 is the last day of the quarter-final matches.

“Well, I think there was a good opportunity and a case to allow these players to play for their teams in the Ranji Trophy quarter final. There is a gap of seven days before they play the first ODI (January 19).

“It’s only six players. So, maybe these six players could have left a day or two later

“I’m sure the Ranji Trophy teams and their coaches would have been very happy to have some of these guys play,” Dravid told EspnCricinfo during a panel discussion, on Tuesday.

Dravid feels that someone like Bhuvneshwar would have gained by getting an ideal match practice in the quarters, as he hasn’t played competitive cricket for more than a month now.

“Had I been Bhuvneshwar, I would have liked to play. He’s probably bowled a lot in the nets over the last month, month-and-a-half, but he hasn’t played a lot of cricket.

“So, I would really have been champing at the bit to have a game.

“From other people’s perspective, say someone like a Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane, who’ve been through a tough Test series, they may be the ones wanting a bit of a break.

“But at the same time, they’re both young and from their perspective would have wanted to see Mumbai in the semi-finals as well.

“It’ll be interesting to see what the players’ perspective on this would have been. But I would think, in my past experience, that if there is such a big gap in between the last game and the start of the tour, most guys actually don’t mind playing the game,” Dravid remarked.

Dravid also said that if the likes of Rohit and Rahane play in Ranji Trophy, it “raises the profile” of the event.

“I am not saying that BCCI doesn’t value Ranji Trophy. They do value it a lot.

“I’ve seen some really good things happen with the Ranji Trophy. I’m just saying that there was an opportunity here to let these guys play some cricket, as there were only the six of them.

“But if these boys play, it raises the profile of the event. “It does tell you that the competition is extremely serious and we value it.

“Since the match (Mumbai versus Maharashtra) would be telecast live, people while flipping through channels would just hang around and watch a little bit more or it if they find Rohit batting,” Dravid said.

“Some of these guys, for instance Shami for Bengal are really valuable players for their teams. And their coaches wouldn’t mind if they were available.

“Obviously, their opponents won’t mind at all if these guys aren’t playing,” Dravid said.