As Varun Aaron prepares for the two four-day matches between India A and Australia A in Chennai, he made his feelings about the new One-Day International rules clear as can be, calling the changes a breath of fresh air.
“It’s definitely a breath of fresh air because bowling with four fielders outside the ring was tough,” said Aaron during an interaction on Saturday (July 18). “I’m glad it’s happened and I’m sure I’m speaking on the behalf of all bowlers.”
The International Cricket Council took a major step in trying to restore some balance between bat and ball in ODIs last month when they announced the scrapping of the Batting Power Play and allowing five fielders outside the 30-yard circle in the last ten overs. The requirement to have two fielders in catching positions in the first ten overs in ODIs was also done away with, but only two fielders can man the boundaries for the first ten overs, while overs 11 to 40 would have four fielders outside the circle.
“Cricket shouldn’t be a batsman’s game or a bowler’s game. It should be equally balanced,” said Aaron. “I feel it’s moving towards that. The rules give bowlers a chance to take ten wickets and the batsmen a chance to score runs. That’s how it should be.”
Aaron believed the India A games, the first of which starts on July 22 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, are an ideal way to prepare for India’s tour of Sri Lanka, consisting of three Tests, with the first match in Galle on August 12. “It’s great preparation ahead of the Sri Lanka series,” he said. “The conditions in Chennai will be similar to Sri Lanka so I’m looking forward to the two Tests, it’s a great build-up.”
The pace bowler also felt that India’s transition phase — after the retirements of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble — was drawing to a close. “It’s more or less coming to an end by the middle of this season,” he suggested. “They (the seniors) have done great for the country, but everyone has to retire at some point. It gives us a chance to step up and represent the country and try to replace them.”
Aaron was also not too worried about Tendulkar’s absence being an economical loss. “Well, I’m not a chartered accountant,” he joked. “Sachin was a big figure and a crowd-puller, but people are stepping up. Virat (Kohli) is doing really well and he should get close to Paaji some day.”
Shreyas Iyer, the 20-year-old top-order batsman from Mumbai, is one of the youngsters hoping to catch the eye during the India A games. Though he was Mumbai’s leading run-getter in the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy season, many eyebrows were raised when Delhi Daredevils signed him for up for Rs 2.6 crore in the 2015 Indian Premier League auction. But he justified the faith as well as the price tag, emerging as the eighth-highest run-getter in the season with 439 runs, including four fifties.
Iyer was grateful for the opportunity to share the dressing room with the likes of Yuvraj Singh, JP Duminy and Zaheer Khan. “I was really nervous, I didn’t really talk much at the start,” he revealed. “Later on, we gelled quite well. All of them were supportive and gave me tips regarding the games. Whenever I approached them, they never hesitated in answering any of my questions. It was a great experience and good to share a dressing room with them.”
Though the IPL brand has taken a hit after the recent two-year bans on Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, Iyer insisted that it wouldn’t really affect the players because “as a youngster, you don’t know much about those things.” His mantra is simple: don’t allow yourself to get distracted; whenever there is an opportunity, perform.
And it was his outstanding performance in IPL that saw him win the Emerging Player of the Year award, which he felt helped him get selected in the India A side. However, Iyer is more excited than nervous about the opportunity, indicating that there wasn’t too much of a chasm between domestic and international cricket.
“The only thing I have to change is my mental skills,” he explained. “There’s not much gap between domestic and international cricket. I played IPL and there were international bowlers bowling at me so it’s not a big problem for me. I will take everything as it comes and try to prove myself.”
Rahul Dravid was appointed the India A and India Under-19 coach, and Iyer is looking forward to learn as much as possible from the former India captain. “I’ll be learning a lot from him, technique-wise and skill-wise,” he gushed. “It’s great to be around him. He doesn’t make you feel as if you’re a newcomer in the team.”