By Rohit Bhandiye
Goa’s Ranji Trophy team will have a new coach this season (2012-13). Former India right-arm medium-fast bowler from Karnataka, Dodda Ganesh has taken over as Goa’s new cricket coach.
Currently he is overseeing a training camp at Porvorim consisting of 20 players ahead of the new Ranji Trophy season beginning next month.
"The Goa Cricket Association approached me based on my previous performance and I accepted their offer," says Ganesh.
Ganesh, 39, had coached Goa’s cricket team previously on two occasions – 2007-08 and 2008-09. "During my earlier stint as Goa’s coach, we reached the semi-finals of Ranji Trophy Plate Division during the 2008-09 season. But, we could not make it to the finals. It was hard luck," rues Ganesh. This time he promises that his boys will do something different.
On being asked about the challenges ahead, Ganesh says: "This time the Ranji Trophy tournament is divided into three groups – A, B, C. Goa is placed in group C. It is a good opportunity for the Goan players to showcase their talent. The biggest challenge and our goal would be to reach the finals of our group. If Rajasthan which was in Plate division earlier can win the Ranji Trophy, Goan team can also do much better."
Regarding the standard of Goan cricket, Ganesh says, "The boys have become more matured now. They know the value of professional cricket. They are keen to play competitive cricket. Players like Swapnil Asnodkar have played for Rajasthan Royals, Shadab Jakati for Chennai Super Kings, Saurabh Bandekar for Duleep Trophy. They have the talent to play at the highest level. What is required is more consistency," added Ganesh.
"Goan players should believe in themselves and work hard on their strengths and improve upon their weaknesses," the cricketer-tuned-coach told The Navhind Times.
"In three years time, I would like to like see Goan cricket reach new level. We have seen teams like Mumbai, Karnataka, Delhi, Punjab dominating Indian cricket. It is high time Goa dominates at the national level and the association is working hard towards this goal. We have good facilities and infrastructure over here. We should grab the opportunities with both the hands."
This season KKR star player Manvinder Singh Bisla will play for Goa. Dodda Ganesh is looking forward to Bisla’s presence in the team.
"I have seen Bisla in his younger days when he played for Indian Airlines. He is a complete team player – very hardworking, committed. He will share his knowledge on the ground, dressing room. He will be like a father figure to the other team members. He will guide and coach the youngsters, give advice to them, support the team", says Ganesh.
According to Ganesh, the future of Goan cricket looks bright. "We have good fast bowlers like Buddhadev Mangaldas, Sagar Naik, Gaurish Yadav who are good prospects for the future. As far as batting is concerned Keenan Vaz, Ilyas Naroo are highly talented players."
Goa play their first match against Jammu and Kashmir at Porvorim from November 9. Goa is placed in Group C along with Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Services and Tripura.
Ganesh, who announced his retirement from first-class cricket in 2007, played four Tests and a lone One-Day International for India during the twin tours of South Africa and West Indies in 1997.
He, however, failed to cement his place in the Indian team despite a consistent haul of wickets in the domestic circuit besides some good performances with the India ‘A’ side.
Ganesh laments the fact that he could not play much for India despite showing much promise in his younger days. "During my time, the Indian team consisted of seven players from Karnataka - Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Rahul Dravid, Venkatesh Prasad, Sunil Joshi, Vijay Bharadwaj and myself. It was highly competitive even to make it to the Karnataka squad."
Ganesh will best be remembered for his exploits with the Karnataka team and in 104 first-class games, he scalped 365 wickets and scored 2023 runs including a century in Ranji Trophy.