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Sunil Joshi: Spinners are neglected

Hubli: The two most common words that one would hear while covering Ranji Trophy matches in India these days are 'sporting pitches'. In layman terms it means result-oriented pitches; but do not mistake them for rank turners, for green tops are what they are. In a bid to produce more results in the domestic circuit and also to nurture fast bowlers, the BCCI is in favour of such sporting tracks.

And going by the records, fast bowlers have thrived in these conditions and dominated the wicket-takers' list the last two Ranji Trophy seasons. This year too the same trend has been followed so far. As a result there are a lot of young budding pace bowlers and some experienced ones too who have caught the attention, but not a single spinner in the past past few years that would make one sit up a take notice. Former Karnataka stalwart and current Jammu & Kashmir coach Sunil Joshi, a left-arm spinner himself, feels that because of such tracks the India's spin department is getting wafer-thin.

"The spin department has been neglected for some time now and the BCCI have to have to take account of that. I have shared it in many platforms time and again where it has to be shared. The way BCCI have singed MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) with the MRF pace academy for the fast bowlers something like that is also needed for our spinners," says Joshi before explaining that the concept of sporting pitches is still unclear for many of the curators who end up making pitches that mostly assist fast bowlers.

"For the last game I was there in Uttar Pradesh and Venky (Venkatesh Prasad, coach of UP) and I were discussing what is a sporting pitch. Some of the curators or the 'so-called' curators don't know what a sporting pitch is," says the 44-year-old, who took 615 first-class wickets in a 19-year domestic career. "So the message should be clear to them. It cannot be an under-prepared pitch, whether it is a green-top, rank turner or a patta wicket. So it still needs a definition and someone has to answer it. As far as I personally feel, such pitches should be equal to the bowlers - both fast and spin and batsman as well. But we don't see that and concerned authorities need to focus on what can be done."

The problem not only lies in an inability to produce quality spinners at home, but to see Indian batsmen who are said to be the most comfortable playing spin struggling against rival spinners - Moeen Ali and Nathan Lyon's impressive performances in recent times being two examples of that. Joshi feels that other teams are exploring India to learn spin and that the BCCI too should do something similar.

"Most of the foreign teams are coming to India to explore spin options. The majority of the county teams, they come to India in the summer and spend at least 15 to 20 days playing against spin, bowling spin, keeping against spin," he says. "So this is where even our authorities should try and focus. Like in the winter, we should send five bowlers or batsmen to South Africa, England, Australia or New Zealand. If you look, other spinners have started doing well against us. Why? Because they are getting the exposure.

"Last year Nicky Boje came from South Africa with two offspinners and both have made it to Test squad of South Africa - Simon Harmer and Dane Peidt. They spend three weeks here with their High Performance team. Boje brought five spinners, two wicketkeepers and three batsmen and out of them four of five guys are now part of the Test team," adds Joshi.

The former Indian international goes on to add that for Indian spinners to perform well outside Asia they must be exposed to different conditions but need time to acclimatise as well. "On tour you go and play one-day games straight; there is no practice session and then start playing Tests. How is it possible to perform in that scenario? It is not. You have to stay there and get acclimatised and then you play and see the difference," he explains.

"The spinners need to be projected and exposed on how to bowl spin outside of Asia. Focus should be how to get wickets from spinners outside of India. That is were a spinner or a spin coach should be able to give time, and it should not be by the name like this is a legendary spinner or a legendary batsman, physical presence has to be there all the time and inputs should be shared with the players."


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