In conversation with Dilip Vengsarkar

Dilip Vengsarkar, former captain of the Indian Cricket Team, visited the campus for an interactive session with the students organized by DataQuest. In an interview with IITBBC, he discusses increasing the popularity of the women’s cricket team, the rising usage of analytical metrics in the game and much more.

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What do you think is the role of analytics in choosing batsmen and bowlers in a lineup today?
DV: It definitely helps, to understand the game. But I think you need to have vision also, an eye for talent. You can use statistics, to know if some person plays good or whatever, but if you can just watch the knock, it certainly helps because you can see on what wicket he has played that knock, against whom he has played that knock, under what circumstances he has played that knock, how he has adapted to the different conditions and situations, is very informative.

What can be done to popularize women’s cricket?
DV: It’s very difficult. Of course, women players are doing extremely well. They’ve improved a lot over the years, their fitness standards have gone up. And now, there will be a lot of interest, because India is doing well. In the earlier days, England and Australia used to be in the finals and were the top teams. Right now, India is doing well so I’m very glad that there will be interest in this World Cup. The India team has just beaten England and Australia, so they’re one of the top teams and our among the contenders, so I hope the Indian girls do well.

The advent of domestic T20 leagues, the calendar of many cricketers has become very heavy. What do you think can be the fallout in such a situation?
DV: I think we need a right balance between Test match cricket, ODIs and T20s. I think Test match cricket is the ultimate, and if cricket is to survive, Test cricket is the only format you have to concentrate on, because if you’re a good Test player, you can adapt to any format of the game. So Test match cricket is very important.

As a vocal proponent of youth development, where do you think the Indian system has failed in promotion of youth sports talent?
DV: In India, we don’t have sporting culture. I think we have tremendous talent and skill, but there’s no infrastructure. If you see the government’s budget, it’s lowest for sports, but if you see in Australia or any other country for that matter, it’s quite huge. Infrastructure is very poor still for other sports, but not for cricket. Cricket has got money, BCCI has invested that money in other associations and their infrastructure. So for cricket, it’s safe, but other games have suffered in comparison. I mean, there’s no infrastructure for hockey or football players.

With the likes of players like Brad Hogg, Kumar Sangakkara and Nathan McCullum, who are performing brilliantly in various T20 leagues, do you feel that T20 is still a youngster’s game?
DV: Not necessarily. It is a shorter format. If you can bowl those four overs effectively, you may be young or old, it doesn’t matter. Batsmen also, you only have to bat a few overs, and if you can hit the ball out of the ground, you’re a good player. But Test cricket is different. You have to be 100% fit, to last 5 days, you have bowl almost twenty five overs everyday, you have to bat four-five sessions, so it’s tough physically also.

How do you think our boys in Blue will perform at the World T20, and who are the other contenders?
DV: If you see, in the ICC rankings India is at the top. They’re playing extremely well, they’re beating everybody. We did well in Australia, and now at the Asia Cup, and this is good preparation for the World Cup. But then, I think in the T20 format, anything can happen. You can’t be complacent, but India stands a very good chance. I hope we win.