DreamCricket reached out to some of the boys from the recent CCA U-13 tour of Gujarat to talk about the tour and share their experiences - the highs and lows.
DreamCricket.com reached out to some of the boys from the recent CCA U-13 tour of Gujarat to talk about the tour and share their experiences - the highs and lows.
A tour of India is difficult for anybody, not least for those that rarely play on turf wickets. And the boys played against Gujarat district teams that were, on average, a couple of years older.
On the whole, the tour provided great exposure to the boys and as Dave Parikh says, "It was not a tournament, but a learning experience."
Roshan Varadarajan (13), a right arm spinner and top-order batsman, was captain of the side for some of the matches and took 8 wickets including a 5-for in the only match that CCA won.
Immanuel Amirtharaj (13), who scored 132 runs on the tour is a wicket-keeper and top order batsman.
Dave Parikh (13) is a left hand top order batsman who scored 111 runs on the tour including a match winning 29 in the fourth match against Nadiad.
Arsh Buch (14) had the highest runs on the tour - 193 runs which included 44 against Surat and 39 against Motera. Arsh is also a medium pacer who took 7 wickets on the tour.
DreamCricket: How was the experience of going on a tour and testing your strengths against competitive teams such as Baroda or Surat who undoubtedly feature some outstanding players?
It was an absolutely brilliant experience to play against some of the top youth cricketers in the world, on some really amazing grounds. I feel honored to have led the team too. I feel that the success of the tour though cannot be judged by our performance during the tour but by how we improve, perform, and become more professional in our approach now that we are back.
Cricket as it should be played - at Motera
Competing against quality sides like Baroda and Surat really tested our strengths, because those kids are extremely professional and disciplined. They feel so comfortable in those conditions and are extremely confident in their game.
I agree with Roshan. Playing competitive teams such as Baroda and Surat helped us improve our game a lot, even though we lost. When we play in the U.S, we play with the same set of people over and over again and we are used to their cricket; but on the tour, we played against teams we had never played against and we had to figure them out quickly.
Well, this is my first year and it was an amazing experience going on my first tour. Those teams in India have a whole new standard of playing cricket and they are very competitive. We needed to play at our very best to compete with them.
We had a great experience going on this tour and testing our strengths. I believe we could have beat Baroda easily but we didn't perform to our best potential. On the other hand, both the Surat matches would have been hard to win as they were a good team.
DreamCricket:You were playing a very packed schedule. Were you not tired after the first few matches?
Actually, the schedule was not all that bad, especially compared to the seven days of consecutive matches we played last year. There was a rest every two to three days, so when we were tired, it was just because we had played a hard game, not because of anything else.
For me, it was definitely a packed schedule, but a few rest days did help. I was the wicketkeeper of the team and had to keep all 40 overs each game plus I had to open the batting, which made it really hectic. Before the tour, we underwent many fitness sessions by the CCA coaches. This helped us cope with the tight schedule and I wasn't tired that much. By the end of the tour, I lost my voice from all the yelling and encouraging from behind the wicket.
At the beginning of the tour I did not feel tired at all - although it took some time to adjust to the time change. Later on when we started traveling, it did get a bit tiring. But I wouldn't say that it was so tiring at any point of the tour that we would drop dead.
I played with almost the same schedule last year, so this was not too bad for me personally.
DreamCricket: The teams that you played against are those that will probably soon be contributing players to India. Did you come across any players that were just awesome?
The players that we came across were no doubt good, but there must surely be a lot of talent all across India - so not sure how the players are ranked in India. There was alot of hype about a batsman named Aditya from the second game, he was dropped after scoring 41, so from what I heard, he is really quite good. There was also a fast bowler Chintan Gaja from the Ahmedabad team who was quite quick and could move the ball both ways. There was a spinner from Surat who was also excellent. Those were about the best we saw.
There were a few awesome players among our hosts. Some were technically correct and some just prodigious. Chintan Gaja bowled really fast and his outswing was too good. There is also a batsman, Meet Parikh on that same team, who is very technically almost perfect, and yet, he has a lot of power. Anant, the captain of the Baroda team is really smart. Even though he isn't that good of a batsman, but he improvised a lot, which really helped the Baroda team to beat us.
I would agree with Roshan and Immy that the best players were from Ahmedabad. Gaja is one of the best bowlers in Gujarat and he got selected for the Gujarat U-16. There was a little kid, about 11 years old, I forgot his name, but he averages about 90 runs a game. He is an opening batsman. I think it was Divya.
There was also this Surat team leg spinner. He was great. It was very fun playing all of them.
DreamCricket: How do you rate your own performances? All of you performed well compared to the rest of your team. And the batsmen among you had some good scores too. Not to forget, Roshan had a splendid 5-for?
Who said American boys don't play cricket?
I would rate my performance as good, but I could have done much better with the bat and ball.
The 5-for was something special and I will always remember that for ever. But overall, I must say that I am quite disappointed with my performance. Especially with the bat. My bowling and fielding was good, but still could have been better.
I would give myself a 7 out of 10 as I could have done better. This whole tour was more of a learning experience than tournament for me. Roshan bowled very well that match and he deserved his first 5 wicket haul.
I think I did my best in keeping and gave only a few extras. I still need to improve on my technique and to create more stumping opportunities.
And yeah, as a batsman, I too did not perform to my potential. I could have easily scored more runs than I did. I should have converted my mid 20's to high scores and gotten at least one fifty. But one thing I am happy about is that Arsh and I always gave our a team a good run rate, stability and good partnership as openers.
DreamCricket: Do you regret not having converted the 20's, the 30's and 40-something in Arsh's case into a big score? Where do you feel you could have done better? What are the areas where you think you should improve?
Playing on turf against spin was something the boys needed to master
I regret not having converted the 20's into higher scores. I was taking it easy when I got to my mid 20's and I was not that careful. Instead, I should have cleared my mind and started afresh.
Their spinners were just too good and I think I should have done better playing against spinners. I think I should improve my temperament and my fitness.
Like Immy, I too regret I didn't turn those little scores into big scores because that would have made a big difference. I think that if some of our batsmen had had big scores we might have been able to win 3 or 4 games.
Definitely, it's tough to get your eye in on turf wickets, so once you do, it is essential to make it count. That's where mental strength and stamina comes into play.
Yes, I do regret that because when I was in the 20s I just start loosing it. I don't know why I just couldn't focus. It is not a matter of thinking that I did my job and I'm done; I know I didn't do as well as expected.
I play too slow and I need to rotate strike more often. I also need to fix my grip. I could keep on going because after going to India I realized that you can never stop improving. There are so many other things that I need to improve after seeing those kids in India. I thought I was pretty fit, but apparently I am not.
DreamCricket: Winning your fourth match must have been a high. But the 3rd one against Baroda and the last one in Motera - you did very well but the bowlers did not deliver. Do you agree that you could have won those matches?
Oh yeah, Arsh and I had a blast on the way back to Ghandinagar in the bus after the fourth match. Not only the match in Baroda and the match in Motera, but we could have even a couple if not almost all our matches if our middle order could have done a little better. It was just a matter of 20-30 more runs in most of our matches and the game was ours.
I enjoyed the win against Nadiad. In the Baroda and Motera game, I believe it was our batsmen who made mistakes - many batsmen could not get going on this trip. I believe we could have won in Baroda and Motera.
I too think that we could have won those matches, if our middle order hadn't collapsed. If we had gotten 20 or 30 more runs, I think that the bowlers could have easily defended that total.
I can't comment on the Motera match, since I was not present, but in all the other close matches - we threw the second Ahmedabad match and the one in Baroda, even a little bit of the first match against Surat - it was our batting that lost us the matches. We would be 50 for no loss, then once the spinners came on, we would struggle to get past 140.
So in those matches we would need someone to step up and play a big innings and we really need to focus and achieve overall improvement against spin bowling.
DreamCricket: How difficult did you find adjusting to and playing on turf wicket? Was it more difficult for the batsmen? How about the bowlers - how did the wicket help them? Did you feel that you need to improve in certain areas because of turf?
I personally think it is 100 times harder for the batsmen to adjust and play on the new wicket. Not that I am making any kind of excuse, but it was hard to bat. It is still a little difficult for bowlers because they need to change their length, but for the most part it was difficult for the batsmen.
Since it is a turf wicket, we can't stand and deliver while batting. It requires a lot more technique playing on the turf wicket, especially footwork, another major aspect I need to work on.
Playing on turf wickets was a completely different experience, it is real cricket as our coach said. For me personally, bowling on the turf wickets was great fun, the ball turns like crazy and something is always happening.
Batting on turf was tough, you can only play certain shots, and you really have to work hard to get your eye in, get used to the pace and bounce, etc. Those wickets were supposedly batting beauties, so I can hardly imagine what it would be like to play on a bowling wicket.
Slip fielders take position
For me personally, it was not very tough to adjust to the pitches. But I do believe that I still need to improve a lot, but I also feel that if we had played on turf wickets here in USA, we could have done a lot better there because if you play on matting wickets, you don't learn the right technique that is needed if you were to play in turf wickets.
You see, the ball bounced low and a sometimes it didn't come onto the bat that well when we played on the turf. It was a bit difficult for us to bat because we were so used to the good bounce in our astro-turf pitches and we didn't bend low while playing the ball. The spinners were able to extract a lot of spin from the wicket which gave us a hard time while facing them.
The bowlers learned that when they pitched the ball a bit short, it would be quickly dispatched for a boundary.
But we all learned so much from playing on these pitches. I think that I need to go front foot most of the time on turf pitches, because the ball keeps low.
DreamCricket: Congratulations again and you have made the USA cricket community very proud by going to India and giving it your best shot.
India was so fun off the field too. This tour means a lot to us and we really enjoyed it.
Thank you for talking to us and we would like to thank our parents, CCA and our coach for giving us this opportunity.
CCA Tour Catches the Imagination of India's leading Daily - Times of India.