New Delhi: Former India selector MSK Prasad has credited the Indian team's recent success and bench strength to their strategy of shortlisting 60 to 80 players from domestic competitions and grooming them for the highest form of cricket.
"Through India A cricket, we shortlisted some 60 to 80 players that we wanted to follow in domestic cricket," Prasad, a former India wicketkeeper-batsman was quoted as saying in The Cricket Monthly.
"We posted ourselves for all those matches where these 60 players were playing. Otherwise, you have 15-16 first-class matches going on every day. You can't keep running here and there."
Prasad, who was the chief selector until last year, said the sectors would look for consistent performers in the team and keep them on standby and ready to replace those on the wane in the national team.
The effort paid off on India's 2020-21 tour of Australia when a large number of frontline players could not play the last Test. However, the standby players who replaced them upset Australia in the fourth and final Test in Brisbane and clinched the series.
"How did we identify those 60 players? [We looked for] consistent performers over the last two years in different formats, who will be the ideal successors for players who, four years down the line, might get superannuated in the senior team. For example, Murali Vijay. We had Mayank Agarwal and Priyank Panchal ready," said Prasad.
The players picked would be sent on tours with India A. The players would also be given a program for training and keeping themselves fit.
Prasad said a system of identification and nurturing of talent through camps at National Cricket Academy (NCA) and India A tours helped, especially in the case of bowlers, who would be ready to play international cricket when given an opportunity.
"Earlier every bowler used to think from his mindset and from his own trial-and-error methods. They would keep trying to do things, but today everything is pre-set and pre-programmed. You have a clear-cut plan, what sort of lines and lengths you have to bowl to a particular batter, and which are the areas where he is weak," said Prasad.
"They are sure of their bowling, they know how to get batsmen out, and they are fit enough to keep doing it. Earlier bowlers used to do well for two Tests, get injured and come back after two three series. That is not happening anymore. Credit should be given to Shankar Basu and the other trainers and physios at the NCA," he said.
Prasad said the emphasis is laid on technical aspects.
"A lot of technical analysis goes on. Even during their pre-season and off season, every player is given a particular schedule, how to look after themselves. They know about their body, they know that these are the areas that might get weakened if they play continuously. This is the kind of expertise that has come into Indian team, which is really helping the fast bowling."
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