Rahul Dravid: Cap on U-19 World Cup Outings Will Curb Age Fraud

He also said that the focus should be on giving more youngsters an opportunity to play rather than on winning.

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File photo of Rahul Dravid. (Photo: Reuters)

Rahul Dravid, coach of the under-19 cricket team, strongly believes that the recent decision by the BCCI working committee to permit players only one shot at Colts World Cup will prevent age fudging.

Ravindra Jadeja (‘06 & ‘08), Vijay Zol (‘12 and ‘14), Sandeep Sharma (‘10 and ‘12), Sarfaraz Khan (‘14 and ‘16), Ricky Bhui (‘14 and ‘16) and Avesh Khan (‘14 and ‘16) are some players in recent times who have played in two under-19 global tournaments.

Being allowed to play only one U-19 World Cup will mean people are less motivated to alter the age. Honestly, U-19 cricket should be more about exposure and less about results. 
Rahul Dravid 

He added:

The focus should be on giving more youngsters an opportunity to play rather than on winning. And that’s what this new rule will result in. The long-term results of this step will far outweigh the potential loss of results in the short term.
Rahul Dravid (top left) with the Under-19 Indian cricket team. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/rahuldravid/photos/a.1686405701587624.1073741827.1686363344925193/1757167394511454/?type=3&amp;theater">Facebook/Rahul Dravid</a>)
Rahul Dravid (top left) with the Under-19 Indian cricket team. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Rahul Dravid)

The 43-year-old former India captain is glad that the BCCI has made it a rule and felt it will have a positive impact on cricketers of coming generations.

The age fudging issue is a major problem and I see it having an adverse impact on the development of cricketers and the continued participation of more deserving people in the game.
Rahul Dravid 

Just how deep-rooted the malaise is could be understood by the fact that Dravid wants BCCI to ensure that they only accept birth certificates issued by competent authority within two years of date of birth. He said:

We might miss out on a few authentic guys who for some reason haven’t been able to obtain a birth certificate, but it will be a strong deterrent to the many wrongdoers and will make age group cricket a much fairer reflection of talent. 

For Dravid, any cricketer, who has played two years of junior cricket at the national competitions, should be good enough to graduate to the next level — if not senior then at least U-23 level.

Former Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid. (Photo: Reuters)
Former Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid. (Photo: Reuters)
The move to allow players who enter the set up only at the U-19 level to play only two years of U-19 cricket is not a bad idea but needs to be monitored and evaluated at the ground level.
Rahul Dravid 

He also said:

In any case, there are U-23 matches which provide another platform. There is no purpose being served by having youngsters continue to play 3-4 years at the U-19 level especially if they have entered the scene after the age of 16-17. 

India have won the U-19 World Cup thrice and have been runners-up on one occasion but the current U-19 national coach wants that the focus be more on junior players getting to play a lot of cricket.

Virat Kohli was the captain of the under-19 team that won the world cup in 2008. (Photo: PTI)
Virat Kohli was the captain of the under-19 team that won the world cup in 2008. (Photo: PTI)
One way to strengthen the junior cricket set up is to shift the focus from the U-19 World Cup and have more tours with more long-form cricket and not just one-day cricket. We should look at these series to give opportunities to more youngsters to give them a taste of international cricket at the junior level.

Dravid also said:

Having more kids tour overseas will mean more future first-class cricketers would have experienced playing in different conditions and that will certainly help in improving domestic cricket as well. Apart from the cricket, it will give a chance for more youngsters to experience other cultures which will aid their overall development.

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