Saba Karim has worn many hats since his playing days as a wicketkeeper batsman. He served as a member of the senior men’s selection committee, participated in commentary and worked as the general manager of cricket operations at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Now, in his current role as the head of talent search with 2020 IPL runners-up Delhi Capitals, Karim is now constantly monitoring and analyzing players, and seeing what different futures may bring. Who among the characters might be the best fit for the team?
On the occasion of Delhi Capitals opening their first academy in Noida, Karim spoke to IANS about his role as a scout, the process of identifying talent and mindset while scouting players.
Question. How has your experience been so far as the Head of Talent Search for Delhi Capitals?
A. Excellent and learning a lot every day. We have a very dedicated team of scouts. We travel; We watch all the matches. We run our cricket academy which is again a great platform from where we have many cricketers emerging. Yash Dhool is a perfect example. We’ve built an ecosystem that’s helping our team grow and spot rich talent.
Q. You have worn many hats such as being on the men’s senior selection committee and general manager of cricket operations at the BCCI. How does your current role differ from your previous positions?
A. I think it’s all experience. It helps me understand the whole concept of talent scouting as I was a former national team selector. Therefore, one understands the dynamics of the game and the needs of the team.
It is very important to have this kind of communication with the team management and the coaches attached to the team to understand what kind of players the team needs. You watch a lot of games, you get more ideas and then you share those ideas with someone like Praveen (Imre), Ricky (Ponting), other scouting teams as well as the Delhi Capitals coaches. . All this experience helps me grow and learn in my current assignment.
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Question. When you go scouting players, do you go with a set mentality or a flow approach?
A. It also depends. I think it’s very fluid. But when you watch more and more matches, you can understand the players. Then you can gauge a player’s ability. We have some amazing talent in our country. It is good to see them and also you want to see them in different situations. But we are very fluid.
Q. Suppose in a match, you like a player and his style of play. So, do you talk to the player or his coaches in domestic cricket to understand the player better?
A. Well, it’s a combination of factors. We usually identify such players, then we have selection trials. This happens before the auction, where we do a number of trials. Overall, throughout the year, we spend not only domestic but also international games watching and watching all these matches.
We have talent scouts who interact with each other on a regular basis. It involves a lot of technology, tools and software that tie it all together, so that we all follow the same system for finding and identifying talent.
Question. As a talent scout, what do you look for when a player stands out on the field?
A. Well, it is very difficult to list the number of factors. But overall, number one is very important: understand the need of the team and then you can move forward. For example, do you need a power hitter? If you need a power hitter, what are the country players who can fill that type of role?
If you are looking for an opener, who are the talented upcoming cricketers who can play that kind of role? So, there are different slots, different combinations, we need to look at all of them. But like I said, because we travel, we watch a lot of matches. We watch a lot of tournaments on television and various other platforms. We have a general idea of the type of player we are looking for.
Question. With Delhi Capitals now opening their first academy in Noida, how do you see it shaping up in the future to provide a platform to young talent from the region?
A. We want to set up a center in Noida. We have seven Delhi Capital Academies in Delhi and NCR (National Capital Region). We wanted to reach Noida and this is a perfect location. Centrally located, excellent facilities, infrastructure is fantastic and we need to build on it more. So, the growth potential here is huge.
That is one of the reasons why we have planned to set up an academy here. We have kind of started it and hopefully there will be many more registrations. We will have coaching staff and support staff. The way we run our academies in Delhi-NCR, we intend to have the same kind of uniformity here.
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