Mukesh Kumar endorses BCCI’s directive on playing domestic red ball cricket

Bengal bowler Mukesh Kumar leaves after the end of Bihar’s first innings during their Ranji Trophy match, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Pacer Mukesh Kumar sees merits in the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) directive to contracted players to play domestic red ball cricket whenever they are free from National duty.

Mukesh, who played his first Ranji Trophy match of the season for Bengal on Friday and captured four wickets against Bihar, was all for donning his state team’s colours.

“It’s good. For me, it is important. I have gone on to play for India by playing the domestic matches. So, for me, it is essential to play domestic matches,” Mukesh, who was released from the Indian side for Bengal’s last group match, told reporters after the end of the first day’s play at the Eden Gardens here.

“Playing for the country is a proud moment, but I missed playing for Bengal. Our pacers have been performing well. Suraj Jaiswal (who also took four wickets) is excellent, very consistent, and he will go far.”

Mukesh missed being part of the party in the Indian team as R. Ashwin achieved his 500th Test wicket. “He is a legend. I am a little sad that I am not there, but I am happy as well to play for Bengal.”

Sharing his impression about the star off-spinner, Mukesh said, “Ashwin always speaks about new ideas. Once I was batting at the NCA before the World Cup. He was bowling to me and asking how the ball was behaving. I have not seen a bigger bowler than him in action. There is a lot to learn from him.”

Asked how he has changed as a bowler after his international exposure, Mukesh said, “After speaking to the coaching staff (in the Indian team), I made some changes in my rotation and landing. I can feel a lot of difference after that. I would like to continue with that.

“There is not much difference (between domestic and international cricket). It’s a mental thing. In international cricket, you should be prepared to take some pressure.”

Mukesh also valued his enriching interactions with Jasprit Bumrah and acknowledged captain Rohit Sharma’s support.

Mukesh, who has represented the country in all three formats, said, “There is not much difference between (bowing with) a white ball and a red ball. The main difference is that of the length. It’s like how to bowl in the PowerPlay and death overs in T20.”

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