How would you make Ranji Trophy interesting so that there not so many draws?
You need to have quality wickets which provide an equal chance to both batsmen and bowlers. That automatically would provide a good contest. Also, since the domestic season is very cramped, the teams don’t want to tire their bowlers by trying to go for an outright win. The amount of cricket we play at the domestic level needs to be looked into. It might mean cancelling one or two tournaments, so that there’s a proper gap between the Ranji Trophy games.
Top stars play so much cricket for India, so perhaps it is unfair to expect them to play all the domestic games?
It is. Some are playing all the year for India, it’s not easy. You need a break. Maybe the spacing of the Ranji Trophy games could be a bit better to give the players a bit more rest between the games.
Does the presence of a senior India player make a difference to the playing standards?
When international players are able to play, it definitely is a good learning experience for the younger guys coming through.
But is this interaction getting reduced because of the seniors’ prior commitments?
Yes, and that’s to be expected. But let’s not discount the role of the other seniors who are not regulars in the Indian team, but have been around for a long time. Sometimes they could have more knowledge to impart about Ranji Trophy pitches, venues etc.
Most Ranji Trophy captains are batsmen, so they often opt for batsmen-friendly wickets.
Some people may play safe because they don’t want to lose outright. But local associations must understand that if they want to develop good cricketers, they need their state players to play on good wickets. They might lose some matches, but in the long run they’ll benefit. I like the concept of neutral curators, and the board is giving them a direction. And, to be fair, the quality of the wickets is improving.
How was it like to play as a junior and aspire to play for Karnataka in Ranji Trophy?
My father would take me to the Ranji games in Bangalore. It was not uncommon to find crowds of 15,000 to 20,000 in the games then. It always was a big ambition to play for Karnataka and then, hopefully, for India. The big thrill was when I was picked up straight out of the U-19 cricket to play for Karnataka.
Could the crowds be back in the grounds?
I do not think that much could be done. It’s not that people are not interested. They still follow the scores religiously; it’s just that they don’t have the time, which is understandable. It’d be a good idea to have air do live radio coverage of the games. They’d be surprised to see how many follow the games, especially their own state teams.