T20 Mumbai League: Tendulkar calls for long term vision

T20 Mumbai League’s ambassador Sachin Tendulkar, commissioner Sunil Gavaskar and mentor Dilip Vengsarkar were in agreement that the tournament, entering its second edition, is crucial for the development of the state’s cricketers.

The trio was present at the inauguration event on Monday in Mumbai, as the tournament begins at the Wankhede Stadium on May 14.

Sachin Tendulkar, Gavaskar, T20 Mumbai league

After a successful debut season last year, where six teams participated and the Suryakumar Yadav-led Triumph Knights Munbai North East emerged as champions, the tournament will have two additional teams this time around. It will run till May 26, with a total of 23 matches being played at the iconic venue.

The teams that will participate this year are: Triumph Knights MNE, Aakash Tigers MWS, Eagle Thane Strikers, North Mumbai Panthers, SoBo SuperSonics, Shivaji Park Lions, NaMo Bandra Blasters and ARCS Andheri.

Among the top Mumbai cricketers, Shreyas Iyer, Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Siddhesh Lad and Shivam Dube will feature in the tournament this season. Arjun Tendulkar has also been drafted in for the league this year.

Tendulkar, Gavaskar and Vengsarkar – all Mumbaikars and stalwarts of Indian cricket – spoke at length about how the T20 Mumbai League is going to be beneficial in several ways in the coming years.

Sachin Tendulkar

Having more teams is good…

I feel the introduction of two more teams has opened doors of opportunities for a number of individuals. Not just the players, but also the support staff. The experience will leave everyone for the better. There are going to be a number of new faces and challenges this year.

Lot to learn for youngsters…

I was fortunate to have some truly big names to guide me through the initial part of my career. In this T20 Mumbai League, there are going to be players who have played for India and in the Ranji Trophy. That’s going to benefit the youngsters tremendously. Not just the India and Ranji players, there are several senior club cricketers who will help make these youngsters better.

Mumbai cricket needs long term plan…

I know we talk about Mumbai not doing so well in the Ranji Trophy. I feel there is always room for improvement. We need to think differently and give a different dimension to the way we prepare. So it’s important not to have a short term vision but to have a long term plan. We need to figure out how to start dominating again. Having said that, I don’t think we’re down in the dumps at all. There have been occasions when we have made it to the semi-finals and finals.

Innovation in school cricket…

I think we have good talent here in Mumbai and it’s all about getting opportunities. I remember in 2013, when I was being felicitated by the Mumbai Cricket Association, I had said that each team in school cricket should play with 14 players in every match. This will keep their passion and hope alive. And the response to this change has been fantastic. It has been truly amazing to see the reactions of the parents.

Rahul Dravid has also once told me that during a school match of his son, he saw anxious parents sitting around him wondering if their child would get a chance to play. This is the reason why, back in 2013, I suggested this 14-member team rule in school cricket. We should not have a single individual going back home without having played or bowled a single ball. I think it’s important we keep their hopes and dreams alive by providing them the platform to express themselves.

Need fans to support…

I think the people of Mumbai love sports, and cricket sits right at the top. We are blessed in that regard and have to not take this for granted. We have to provide the fans the best facilities so that the stadium is packed once again. I had told the organisers last year at the start of the tournament that by the end of the league, at lease the bottom tiers of the stadium will be full. But Mumbaikars are known to surprise everyone, and they came in and filled the entire stadium.

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