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Cricket Manager

India U19 in England Jul/Sep 1994 - Indian Squad prospects

Millstone around Mazumdar's neck. Amit Roy on the problems facing
a talented young Indian batsman who has inevitably been given la-
bel of the "new Tendulkar."

The "new Tendulkar" is the millstone hung around the neck of  any
young  Indian  batsman  who shows promise. And Amol Mazumdar, who
scored a record 260 on his first-class debut for  Bombay  and who
is   a  member of the Indian youth side which started its tour of
England a week ago, is no exception. The team  coach, Sandeep Pa-
til,   a   former  Test  player, goes out of his way not to over-
praise Mazumdar, who looks a lot younger than his 19 years. Patil
emphasises that Sachin Tendulkar, who forced his way into the In-
dian Test side at 16, was "exceptional." "Amol is  talented,"  is
all Patil will say. "The problem will start when he has to handle
the pressure of being known. Everyone has started talking of him.
This   can   give  him  false confidence.  He has got to keep his
cool and get good scores." The team manager, Gautam Dasgupta,  is
a  lot  more forthcoming about Amol, who has already notched up a
century on tour, saying: "He is definitely a Test prospect."  The
Indian  boys   could   not  take their cricket more seriously had
they been Test players.  In  fact,  all  but  four  of   the   15
members   of   the  side,  who  are aged 19 or under, have played
first-class cricket in the Indian Ranji Trophy  domestic   coach,
Ramakant  Achrekar, whose stable  has  produced  a number of Test
players, including Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli,  and  who  guides,
among  others,  Mazum- dar.  "He is a big influence on our boys,"
Patil says. He sees no reason why young  players  should  not  be
blooded  at Test level  as soon as possible--something which sel-
dom occurs in English crick- et.   So  great  and  widespread  is
cricket's  popularity   in   India  that  it isn't easy picking a
youth team.  The authorities hold na- tional camps and  pick  out
the  most  talented 15 from the scores of hopefuls  invited  from
all over  the country. On their  current  tour,  it  soon  became
clear  that  many of the boys  were  not  pro- ducts  of  the ex-
clusive  English medium public schools in India  which  have  the
facilities and money necessary to encourage crick- et.  When they
were  fielding, for example, the Indians cheered each  other  on,
not  with  shouts of "Come on, chaps," as might have happened  20
years  ago, but with Shabaash (well done)  in  Hindi.   Dasgupta,
who is also secretary of the  Bengal  Cricket Associa- tion,  ex-
plains  that  the top cricketers now enjoy the  glamorous  status
which  had  once  been the exclusive preserve of the  Bombay film
stars. "Test players are becoming superstars.  That's why so many
youngsters  want to come into the game." There are high hopes for
Balaji Rao, a leg spinner from Tamil Nadu.  The wicketkeeper, Mi-
lap  Mewada  is  neat and quick  and  rarely misses  a  stumping.
Ironically,  one  of the most impressive feats of batting seen so
far against the visitors came from Anurag Singh, an  18-year  old
Indian  who  scored a quick century against the tourists in their
opening  game against the England  Schools  Cricket  Association.
When  Anurag  was nine-months old his parents, who are doctors in
Birmingham, emigrated to England from Kanpur, where their son was
born.  In 1992 Anurag scored 1,135 runs for King Edward's,  Birm-
ingham, which stands as the school record. He recently scored 126
on his  debut  for the Warwickshire second eleven. But he is  not
even  in the England Under-19 side, an omission which puzzled the
visiting Indians. When Anurag got his hundred he was complimented
by  Mazumdar, who said:  "You  certainly  read  our leg  spinners
well."  Had Anurag been living in India, Mazumdar added, he would
almost certainly been playing first-class cricket by now.
(The Sunday Telegraph (7 Aug 94) - By Amit Roy)
 Contributed by Sanjoy.Majumder (muzzy@casbah.acns.nwu.edu)

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