x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Former India spinner passes on his experience to youngsters in Dubai.

Venkatapathy Raju oversees UAE Under 19 training. Sarah Dea / The National
Venkatapathy Raju oversees UAE Under 19 training. Sarah Dea / The National

ABU DHABI // Venkatapathy Raju, the former India spinner, is on 10-day visit to the Emirates to help the UAE coach Aaqib Javed with the team’s spin bowling.

Raju, who has taken 93 Test and 63 ODI wickets from an international career from 1990 to 2001, has been working with the spinners from the UAE Under 19 and senior national sides ahead of their upcoming competitions.

“It is always a nice feeling to work with the younger cricketers,” said Raju, who is now the Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC) development officer for UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and Thailand.

“I am available whenever any of the four countries are in need of my services. Most of the spinners know what they do at this level and my task is fine-tune them and work on the variations.”

The U19s are preparing for a tri-series against their counterparts from Pakistan and England next month, followed by the U19 Asia Cup from December 26 to January 4, and the U19 World Cup in February.

The senior national team are readying for the World Twenty20 qualifiers from November 15 to 30 in the UAE.

“It is a great opportunity for the U19’s to play in a World Cup, because many players from this level have gone on to play for their senior national teams,” he said.

Raju played in the inaugural U19 World Cup in Australia in 1988 and was picked for the senior national team two years later.

“The U19 concept is the best thing to happen for the development of cricket at the grassroots level,” he said. “It provides the young cricketers with the opportunity to play against different countries at an early age.

“I had the good fortune of playing in the first youth world cup. Brian Lara captained the West Indies and Michael Atherton was captain of England. Aaqib and Inzama-ul-Haq were playing for Pakistan, and Chris Cairns for New Zealand, just to name a few.

“Now we see a lot of youngsters who played in the U19 World Cup [emerge] in the national teams.”


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