Lamenting the lack of recognition to formative coaches, former India batsman VVS Laxman said that the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) has urged the BCCI to shift its focus from infrastructure to developing a quality pool of coaches.
"We never ever gave importance to Desh Prem Azad, who identified and nurtured Kapil Dev till he played for Haryana. After that once you play at the highest level or you play first-class cricket, you become mature," Laxman, who is a part of three-member CAC that also includes Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, said.
Stressing that mentors are more important in a player's career than infrastructure, Laxman cited the example of Tendulkar's coach Ramakant Achrekar, saying that the iconic batsman was developed by his coach and not by Shivaji Park, the ground where he practised.
"I believe that more than infrastructure, a lot of importance should be given to develop quality coaches and that is something, which we have recommended to the BCCI also," the 43-year-old said while addressing the inaugural session of the CII, Sports Summit 207 in suburban Andheri.
Laxman said that he was fortunate that his maternal uncle identified talent in him when he was young.
"My uncle was my mentor. My maternal uncle identified the spark, talent in me and convinced my parents that I got a good chance of playing at the highest level. How many kids have access or an opportunity of having such a guide. I was very fortunate that I had wonderful coaches in the academy where I went to," Laxman, who will always be remembered for his unbeaten 281 against Australia in Kolkata in 2001, said.
"All the players who you talk to, who have achieved excellence they will tell that there was a mentor or a coach, who was like an elder brother or a father. Sachin was not because of Shivaji Park (a ground in Dadar), Sachin was because of Achrekar Sir. I think the important message there is to invest money in developing those quality coaches," the stylish batsman explained.
The cricketer-turned-commentator also rued the fact that parents in India are still not open about their kids taking up sports as a career option.