*Praises U-23 players, selectors
JAMMU, Feb 2: Mithun Manhas needs no introduction in cricketing world. Apart from being Head Coach of J&K Ranji Trophy team for last two seasons, Manhas has the distinction of captaining strong Delhi Ranji Trophy team having the likes of Sehwags, Nehras, Kohlis, Gambhirs and Dhawans etc in their side. The ace cricketer cum coach has also the honour of representing India-A team more than once, besides representing Delhi Daredevils, Pune Warriors and Chennai Super Kings in various IPL seasons for 9-long years. Manhas has also the reputation of being the batting coach of Bangladesh Under-19 team, besides being among a few top run getters in First Class cricket played across the country. The gutsy cricketer has also the honour of skippering Duleep and Deodhar Trophy North Zone teams. The distinguished cricketer has been appointed Assistant Coach of Kings XI Punjab for second successive year. In a freewheeling chat with EXCELSIOR, Manhas talked about his new assignments and cricketing scenario in J&K.
Q: You have been appointed as Assistant Coach of Kings XI Punjab to work with Head Coach Australian great Brad Hodge. How you take this assignment?
A: You know I have played against Brad a couple of times and have interacted with him many a time. But as far as working as an Assistant Coach with him is altogether a new job as I was Assistant Coach of the team last season also, however, it was Viru (Virender Sehwag) as the Head Coach then, who was familiar with me and my working. Australians have their own style of working and I already have had some chats with him (Brad) in this regard. I am looking forward for a better and refined coaching approach.
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Q: J&K cricket is not in healthy state from past few years. Would you like to comment on it?
A: For making healthy cricket culture in the State, ‘mind your own business should be the ‘mantra’ of cricket fraternity of J&K. Indulging of members in each other’s affairs for personal benefits serves as a stumbling block for excellence of cricket and cricketers. The healthy atmosphere among the members is directly proportional to the healthy cricket culture. Working of members as a unit will always add to good health of State cricket.
Q: J&K U-23 team did remarkably well in One Dayers. To whom you will attribute the team’s success?
A: Under-23 team’s performance this season to become North Zone Champions showed that J&K possesses immense cricketing talent and the only need is to hone it. The players have made the entire State proud and the selectors deserve appreciation for picking a balanced side that has emerged North Zone champion by thrashing formidable Delhi, strong Punjab, tough Haryana and equally balanced Himachal Pradesh in their four outings in the zonal leg of the Tournament.
Q: J&K’s Manzoor Pandav has been picked by Kings XI Punjab for IPL this season. How do you see his role in the team?
A: It is just a beginning. I take him as a batting all-rounder, who can bowl a military medium stuff. He has the potential of hitting big sixes which have a lot of significance in shorter version of the game. Let’s wait how the things go in IPL.
Q: Apart from Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, Indian batsmen showed dismal performance in South Africa. What in your opinion are the reasons for their lacklustre show?
A: To me the preparation for the tour was not up to the mark. Indians should have gone their earlier to accustom with the conditions and get feel of the tracks. Failures and successes are part and parcel of every sport. I reckon, the Indian batsmen have done well in the past and will flourish again.
Q: How can be the standard of cricket improved in J&K?
A: Good grounds and quality turf wickets are the basic requirements to improve the standard of cricket and cricketers in J&K. The need is to develop sufficient infrastructure and renovate the already existing sports facilities in the State. Further, the need is to organize standard cricket leagues with quality equipment for various age categories to give ample opportunity to budding cricketers to fine-tune their cricketing skills and showcase their talent. Last but not the least, for enhancement of cricket standard in the State, the young cricketers need to marry this game, which is simply a religion in our country.
*Praises U-23 players, selectors