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Why Bengal could not produce many international cricket players?

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Korak Sen is a student of Sports Management at an Australian University

The cricket season in Bengal is about to begin with inter club transfers starting from 1st September. This is a time when most clubs, both Division I & II, look forward to strengthen their sides by roping in the best players. All first division clubs tend to pay substantial amounts to players due to higher level of competition and in particular, few clubs such as East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Sporting Union and Kalighat lean towards spending big sums to make the best possible line ups.

Each division of cricket has three formats (Twenty-Twenty, One day Knockout and the longer format). The 3-day Cricket League is the notable difference between the two divisions (existence of 2-day cricket league in Division 2). The club cricket season commences from December and extends till end of March for most clubs but the high-profile clubs taking part in the championship play-offs have the chance to play till the end of June.

Compared to other states, Bengal is still playing the catching-up game when it comes to producing players of international quality. Other than Sourav Ganguly, Pankaj Roy and Dilip Doshi, the state has failed to rise up to the occasion. There are many reasons for this failure and the most prominent one is the lack of standard cricket grounds in the state. The Cricket Association of Bengal organizes the local competition in several grounds but only three out of the many are considered to be of standard size and quality.

From the sports management point of view, a number of initiatives can be taken to improve the current state of Bengal cricket. For quite a few years now, outstation players have played a major role in the success of club cricket in Bengal. The most recent fashion is switching states to prolong their careers at the expense of local talent. For example, Pragyan Ojha moved from Hyderabad to Bengal to participate in a higher level (Elite plate competition) and indirectly tried his luck to make a comeback to the national side, but that did not come out well. The sole outcome was the local left arm spinners, warming the benches in despair. The state body should make provisions to restrict outstation players from taking part and dominating the game in Bengal.

Improving stadium facilities and increasing the number of standard cricket grounds is a primary need for the improvement of the game in the state. Organizing structured high-performance programs for elite athletes and providing them with the best possible facilities along with a greater emphasis on women in sport. For example, organizing well designed competitions and covering matches, in addition to higher money can help to shape women’s cricket in Bengal.

In most parts of the world, players get nurtured right from the school level. The state body should improve the state of school cricket and implement strategies to brighten school sports.As a current sports management student and a former club cricketer in the state, I’m confident that Bengal will rise up to the occasion and prosper in the future!