Last October, two of the biggest names in the Mumbai Circuit: Ajit Agarkar and Sachin Tendulkar announced their retirement from International Cricket. The 35-year old bowler last played a First-Class match against Saurashtra earlier this year when he led Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy. Last week, Sachin played his last match for Mumbai taking the team to a four-wicket victory in their Ranji Trophy opener vs. Haryana in Lahli with a 50-run seventh stand alongside Dhawal Kulkarni.
The Unbeatable Mumbai
Mumbai is the most successful team with 40 titles, the most recent being in Indian cricket season, in the history of the Ranji Trophy, India’s premier domestic cricket competition. It also has 16 Irani Trophy titles to its name, also the most by any team.
Both, Ajit Agarkar and Sachin Tendulkar have been prominent personalities for Mumbai in the last two decades, long serving the Mumbai Cricket Association and churning out match winning performances. They have been a key part of Mumbai’s unmatched winning record in the domestic circuit. One of the Ajit Agarkar’s notable performances in domestic cricket came in the 2009-10 Ranji Trophy finals against Karnataka in which he took 5 wickets in the second innings ensuring a narrow win for Mumbai. Sachin Tendulkar is the poster-boy of Mumbai Cricket with a number of records to his name; he is one of the most popular cricketers to wear the Mumbai jersey.
The Problems Ahead
With these two retiring, a big void is sure to be felt. The team is in the midst of transition; though both Sachin and Ajit haven’t been regulars in the team for some time, their absence would be felt. Also, with Wasim Jaffer being the only known face in the side, it’s a tough road ahead. Ajinkya Rahane who is a big name in IPL, playing for the Rajasthan Royals, has been in the good form for his franchise this last season. However, he failed to show the same in the domestic circuit. On the other hand, Dhawal Kulkarni, Aavishkar Salvi,Harmeet Singh and Kshemal Waingankar have been impressive in the last couple of season.
But still the lack of match winning performances has been a problem. Also Ramesh Powar, one of the best off spinners India has produced in the recent times, has left the team which doesn’t help their cause much.
Another thing to worry is the art of producing International Cricketers. Over 50 cricketers who have worn the Mumbai Jersey have gone on to play for the Indian team. But in the last decade, barring a few names like Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rhane and Ramesh Powar, others haven’t been able to make their proper place in the National team.
What has been the change?
One of the factors can be the emergence of small cities in the last decade; cricketers like Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni all being from small cities.
I feel the change has been in the management; with reports of players being unhappy with the committee moving around every now and then, it’s a spot of bother for Cricket fans in Mumbai. The last decade hasn’t seen many successes; there have been strikes of gold but the amount of success they would have hoped has been vindicated.
With Wasim Jaffer being 35 and Zaheer Khan too on the other side of 30, there is a new phase for the most prolific team in the domestic circuit. The lack of match winners has been imminent and with two of the best for Mumbai hanging up their boots, replacing them wouldn’t be easy but it’s necessary to start now.
By Ish Chandok
Image Source: Mumbai Ranji Team@Facebook