‘Experience of Being Former National Selector Comes Handy in Understanding Talent Scouting’: Saba Karim – SportsMediaz

Saba Karim has donned many hats since his playing days as a wicketkeeper-batter were over. He served as a member of the senior men’s selection committee, ventured into commentary and worked as General Manager, Cricket Operations at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Now, in his current role as Head of Talent Search with 2020 IPL runners up Delhi Capitals, Karim is now into constantly watching and analysing players, and seeing who could be the best fits for the side in a variety of roles in future.

On the sidelines of Delhi Capitals opening their first academy in Noida, Karim spoke to IANS about his role as a scout, process of identifying talent and mindset while scouting players.

Q. How has your experience been till now as the head of talent search for Delhi Capitals?

A. Excellent and a lot of learnings each day. We have a very dedicated team of scouts. We travel; we watch all the matches. We run our own cricketing academy that is again a great platform where we have a number of cricketers emerging from there. Yash Dhull is a great example. We have created an ecosystem which is helping our team to grow and also to unearth rich talent.

Q. You have held many hats like being in the senior men’s selection committee and General Manager, Cricket Operations at BCCI. How has your current role been different from your previously held positions?

A. It’s all experience, I think. It really helps me to understand the entire concept of talent scouting because I was a former selector of the national side. So, one understands the dynamics of the game and the requirements of the team.

It’s very important to have that kind of communication with the team management and with the coaches who are attached with the side to understand what kind of players team requires. You watch so many games, you get more ideas and then you share those ideas with someone like Pravin (Amre), Ricky (Ponting), other scouting teams as well as coaches of Delhi Capitals. All of this experience helps me to grow and learn in my current assignment.


Q. When you go to watch for scouting players, do you go with a set mindset or is there a go with the flow approach?

A. It also depends. I think it’s very fluid. But when you watch more and more matches, you get to understand the players. Then you can figure out the potential of a player. There are some amazing talents in our country. It’s good to watch them and, plus you want to see them in different conditions. But we are very fluid.

Q. Suppose in a match, you get to like a player and his playing style. So, do you talk to the player or his coaches in domestic cricket in order to get a better understanding of the player?

A. Well, it is a combination of factors. We generally identify such players, then we do have selection trials. This happens before auction, where we conduct a number of trials. Overall, in the entire year, we do spend traveling and watching all these matches, not only domestic but also international games.

We have talent scouts who communicate with each other on a regular basis. There is a lot of technology, tools and software involved which keeps everybody together, so that we all are following same kind of system to unearth and identify talent.

Q. As a talent scout, what are you looking for when a player is featuring out there on the field?

A. Well, it’s very difficult to list out the number of factors. But overall, number one is very important: to understand the requirement of the team and then you can go forward. For instance, do you need a power hitter? If you need a power hitter, then who are the domestic players who can play that kind of role.

If you are looking for an opener, who are the upcoming talented cricketers who can play that kind of role. So, there are different slots, different combinations, we need to look at all that. But as I said, because we travel, we see a lot of matches. We see a lot of tournaments on television and various other platforms. We have a general idea of what kind of players we are looking for.

Q. With the Delhi Capitals now opening their first academy in Noida, how do you see this shaping up to provide a platform for the upcoming young talent from this area in future?

A. We want to create a hub in Noida. We do have seven Delhi Capitals academies in Delhi and NCR (National Capital Region). We wanted to reach out to Noida and this is a great location. Centrally located, excellent facilities, infrastructure is wonderful and we need to build more on it. So, the potential to grow here is massive.

That is one of the reasons why we have planned to set up an academy here. We have kind of launched it and expect many more registrations to come through. We will have dedicated coaching staff and support staff. The way we run our academies in Delhi-NCR, we plan to have the same kind of uniformity here also.

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