Like any other local cricketer, Pravin Tambe has always dreamt of playing Ranji Trophy for Mumbai. He is close to realising his dream when, on Monday, the selectors picked up the 42-year-old in the 15-member squad for the next match against Jharkhand at the Wankhede from December 6.
Tambe was “very happy” with his selection. “It feels great. I have always dreamt of wearing the lion crest. I have always enjoyed my game at the local levels. It was a pleasant surprise. Now my aim is to get into the playing XI,” Tambe, who took 25 wickets from five Kanga League games, told dna.
However, his selection has raised a debate of sorts in the cricketing circles. Despite doing very well in the CLT20 and IPL with his leggies, have the Mumbai selectors taken a backward step by picking up a 42-year-old instead of a young spinner who could be the future?
Mumbai’s senior selection committee chief Deepak Jadhav said Tambe’s inclusion was a “message to the youngsters”. He said: “The reason behind it is that we have only one spinner in Vishal Dabholkar. We don’t have spinners to back him up. We don’t want to give the cap to a youngster just because he is young. They should earn it.”
“It is a sad story that there is a dearth of spinners. Tambe is much fitter, motivated and has got the right attitude at this age. Apart from that, he has done very well in local cricket. Why should we not pick him. It is a message to the youngsters. If Tambe can make it, so can anyone,” added Jadhav.
Former Mumbai selector and captain Milind Rege praised the move. “Looking at Mumbai’s bowling resources, it is not a bad move. I am one of those who thinks there should be a balance between building for the future and looking after the team. The team should be young and well balanced. Now that Zaheer (Khan) is not there, Pravin’s experience could fit in. Let’s be fair to Pravin. He is as fit as anybody else but there was no place for him. We have to look at the circumstances too. We needed someone who would back Dabholkar. Experience is also important since (Ajit) Agarkar and (Ramesh) Powar are also not there,” he said.
Former Mumbai U-25 coach Vilas Godbole, under whom the team won three Col CK Nayudu Trophy, was surprised. “Where are the youngsters? What has gone wrong? What are the coaches doing? We had such a good leg spinner in Sagar Gorivale, who has been our strike bowler in U-25, someone who has taken 106 wickets in 24 state games in last four years. Where is he?
People say he has not taking wickets in Kanga League but he has 16 wickets in eight matches.
You should groom these youngsters,” he said.