Anurag Thakur © CricketCountry
Anurag Thakur has been quite active since the end of IPL 2015 © CricketCountry

Kolkata: The BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur said that the national selection committee is keeping a close tab on the young Indian talent as they have visited multiple venues to get an idea about the performers during the just-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 tournament.

“Many selectors have been visiting many venues. They are aware of the young players’ performances. The BCCI is also keeping an eye. It’s a platform that gives ample opportunities to a young player,” Thakur told a select group of mediapersons during an interaction here today.

The BCCI secretary’s own observation on IPL is that “a young crickter learns much more in two months of league than they would learn in 5-10 years. It’s an opportunity for players to share the dressing room with the legendary players. In these two months, what they learn is much more compared to what they get to learn in 5-10 years,” Thakur stated.

He then cited the example of Mandeep Singh batting in company of a star like AB de Villiers. “Mandeep and AB were batting you can evaluate your player. Mandeep was looking more aggressive and better while facing the same bowlers in similar conditions. You can make similar comparisons, so it’s easier for selectors to pick players from the IPL,” the BCCI secretary said.

He also open to the idea of Test match specialists like Cheteshwar Pujara honing their skills in county cricket if they are not playing IPL for any franchise. “In a way to look out the possiblities, we’ve players like Cheteshwar Pujara, who does not play for any franchise. here will be a few players like him, who can be an asset to the Test team. They should go and play county where they can get good exposure. They should not miss out on cricket. Next year we’re going to play 12 Tests.” Pujara played for Yorkshire in English County’s Division-I this year.

Thakur also initimated the media that BCCI has chalked out a calender in such a manner so that the accent is more T20 Internationals keeping in mind the World T20, scheduled to be held in country next year. “We have World T20 for men’s and women’s here so we have designed our calendar such a way that limited overs cricket would be ahead of the first class cricket. We’ve learnt from the previous shortcomings. We’re organising Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 much ahead,” added Thakur.

The secretary also spoke about the need to invest in women’s cricket and the decision to start the contract system for the likes of Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami. “It’s in the interest for women’s cricket. The conditions are not easy for them. Many states are still lagging but many have started residential academies. By bringing them under the contract system, we will further strengthen the women’s cricket and put them under focus. We’ve had four women commentators in the IPL this season, and they’re appreciated.”

The BJP MP did not forget to mention about Jagmohan Dalmiya’s contribution in making Indian cricket a successful commercial entity. “Dalmiya had a great contribution in the real turnaround for Indian cricket by taking the rights away from Prasar Bharati. We’ve learnt with the time. We’re the only sporting body in India and maybe globally too who have helped around 900 former cricketers who get (pension) benefit of Rs 2 crore every month.”

While the game has become increasingly sponsor-driven, Thakur pointed at the positive side of having corporates in the game. “If by giving mileage to the sponsors, my ex, current and upcoming cricketers are benifitted, then I am more than happy. We’ll keep learning but we will not compromise on the facilities given to our players and to the game of cricket. We are the only association with more than 20 stadiums. That’s not a small thing.”

Some figures were also quoted to corroborate how big a success the eighth edition of IPL was. “TV ratings went up by 20 per cent. Live streaming on internet shot up 25 percent, viewing of official web pages 32 per cent. Twitter followers increased 130 per cent, FB likes 50 per cents, stadium attendance 15 per cent. Revenue has grown by 120 per cent since first edition of the IPL. Two billion people watched last season so you can well imagine the increase of 15-20 per cent.”

He also termed the IPL ‘Fan park’ as huge success. “It was a huge success reaching out to tier two cities and rural market. In Guntur, it was 20,000 people. We had 16 towns and on an average we had more than 10,000 people at these venues,” he concluded.