Panaji: One of the key reasons why Indian cricket still has a chronic dearth of all-rounders is that parents want their children to emulate Sachin Tendulkar or Ravichandran Ashwin, but not Kapil Dev, says former international Chetan Sharma.
Speaking to IANS on Wednesday on the sidelines of a school cricket league event in Panaji, Sharma said over-interference of parents in their children's ambitions could also be the cause for the country not producing all-rounders and fast bowlers.
"Parents try to drill it in their children's minds all the time that they have to become Tendulkar or Ashwin. I am sure no one says Kapil Dev. No one wants to be a fast bowler because there is a lot of effort there. I think there is a problem and a big one," said Sharma, who is credited with the first World Cup hat-trick.
"I often teach fast bowling at academies. Once the training is done and I step outside, around 50 parents ask me 'when is my son going to play for India?'. How old is the child? 12 years old. Parents over-involved. I think the problem lies there," said Sharma, who is now heading a programme by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to identify cricketing talent in schools.
"School cricket is at the lowest ebb in Goa. No one in doing anything about school cricket. I am a product of school cricket. Four, five cricketers who actually played for India like myself, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Maninder Singh, Saba Karim are products of school cricket," Sharma said.
The former all-rounder was in Goa to promote the state edition of the school cricket league which will see teams competing at the district, state, zonal and finally at the national level.
"Selected students below the age of 15 years will not have to worry about paying for their education. Our league will be taking care of it," Sharma said, adding that school students above the age of 10 would be tapped.
Sharma asserted that the school league will help the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) in identifying talent.
"BCCI has the best infrastructure in the world as far as cricket is concerned. School cricket will give backup to BCCI as far as identifying talent at a young age is concerned. Some good cricketers end their potential careers in schools because there is no one to spot them," Sharma said.
"When a crore children are playing in India, and yet if we cannot find two genuine all-rounders, there is something drastically wrong somewhere. You have to invest two to three years at school level to make these all-rounders," Sharma added.