A Step In The Right Direction?

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Quo Vadis BCCI?
(where are you going, BCCI?)


The selectors, with the blessings of the Board officials, have chosen two teams to tour Bangladesh and the process has exposed the fraility of the Indian Cricket System. The selections, and the subsequent statements, just prove, how Indian cricket will never improve. When they have to hide behind and fall on their feet to explain the exclusion of Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly from ODIs and state that they are ?rested’ than ?dropped’, when they have no guts to ?rest’ more veterans like Sehwag (from ODI) and, Sachin and Laxman (from Tests) when playing against a no.10 team in the world, all of this does not really augur well for Indian cricket.


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I must admit at the outset that there are some youngsters chosen, but for Bangladesh tour, this is not sufficient.


It is well known that Sehwag’s record in ODI is very poor, but in Test Cricket his performance is great, still he has been dropped from the Test team but not ODIs. The fact that Sachin has played for 17 years (that is sufficient wear and tear, and one need not go and check what his age is, to justify his continuance in the team) and no one else has played more than him ? that itself is a sufficient proof that it’s the time to go for him, and the current poor form is just what should have accelerated the obvious.


With the Board dictat in the aftermath of World Cup debacle, the appointment of a shrewd manager cum coach in Ravi Shastri and some tough words uttered all around, many people were hoping for a much bigger ?cleanup’ to be applied on all the non performing assets of this team. The opportunity was great, since the tour was to Bangladesh, and the chance to include more youngsters, at least to send a strong message to the seniors. That would have given a great opportunity to see which youngsters are at an international level for aiding the selection for the forthcoming tougher series against England this summer and Australia in the summer down under.


Dropping of Harbhajan and Agarkar was on expected lines for not being able to be the strike bowlers turning the course of matches. The selectors have also dropped Irfan Pathan! In my view, a tour to Bangladesh was the best chance to give confidence back to the young and talented Irfan Pathan. I fail to understand the logic, since he did not play even one match in the World Cup! How did the selectors decide then, that he was good enough for the world cup, not anymore?!


I would have liked to see, as a step forward, Mohammed Kaif in place of Laxman in the Test squad (Kaif’s future was messed up by forcing him in the ODI squad, despite the fact that his game suits the longer version), but the selectors seem to have forgotten Kaif. Another notable exclusion is Raina, who was till about 10 months ago was considered as the future captain of Indian cricket! May be the success of another left hander, Dinesh Kaarthick with the bat and the desire to have the county experience of Dinesh Mongia (a left hander as well) might have gone against Raina. Kaarthick’s ability to be the opening batsman, one-down batsman and a wicket keeper is also a major factor.


Interesting part of the selections are of course the entry of Piyush Chawla, a young and traditional leg spin ? googly bowler and Rajesh Pawar, a notable left arm spinner. Ultimately, some good sense has prevailed on the selectors who have finally dropped Harbhajan after a long spell of poor bowling performance. Some new fast bowlers are also there on the list, but I don’t want to comment much on them, as I haven’t seen or heard about their performances. A promising youngster, S. Badrinath of Tamilnadu hasn’t found favours despite his exploits at domestic scene.


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Going back to Sachin ? why do we need him in the Test team against Bangladesh? Is that the level of confidence we have on our other batsmen? Without giving them a chance, how are we going to find a replacement for him. Now don’t get emotional to say that Sachin Tendulkar is irreplaceable. My dear readers, every one is replaceable, we might even find a better one if we try. We said the same for Sunil Gavaskar and then we found Sachin. Through all this, talented cricketers did not find opportunities and that includes the abrupt end to the cricket career of Sanjay Manjrekar, whom Imran Khan once hailed as the best batsman he ever bowled to. There are many examples who just did not manage to pierce into the coterie created through this super-star status of the Azhars, Sachins, Sauravs.


I just happened to hear Sanjay Manjrekar speak on Cricinfo Talk. He gave a very balanced view which justifies my thoughts fully. He mentioned that Australians did not hesitate to drop Captain Steve Waugh just before the 2003 world cup to prepare Ricky Ponting. He frowned at the psyche of Indian cricket in general and the selectors in particular that they are not brave enough to say that they are dropping some superstars, but do that for Agarkar, Harbhajan and Irfan Pathan saying they are dropped!


In Indian Cricket, we have forgotten one key element, that is, cricket is a team game and always, the team wins and not any individual. We adore our cricketers for their individual records without bothering to see how much of that helps the team to win.


Isn’t this giving time and opportunity for Sachin Tendulkar to add on to his world records? By playing against Bangladesh? Are the selectors trying to tell us that after scoring a century against Bangladesh (though I am not too sure about it), Sachin will be back in form for the tougher England series? That Sachin will last for another few years, so that we don’t need to worry about grooming a youngster till then? Or is he there just to avenge his failure in the world cup game? What a shame that Indian selectors have no courage to play a youngster in his place while playing against Bangladesh? Are they now scared about the Bangla Tigers? Has that loss in the world cup affected their psyche so much? This attitude of selectors has cost us the World Cup and I am sure, we will see many more such debacles in the future if we don’t change our psyche.


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And the Indian media will hype and the public will wipe away the bad memories of the world cup, the moment these distinct failures of the Caribbean World Cup score plentiful of runs against the minnows. Mind you, Bangladesh might have beaten India and South Africa in this world cup, but they are extremely consistent ? see how they lost to Ireland. Add to that the threat of Dave Whatmore leaving them soon and I am sure India will make merry in Bangladesh and all despair of the world cup will be neatly forgotten. The Sachins of this world will be back in the limelight, among the records, so what if the team is Bangladesh?


Greg Chappell said, if you want to be like Australia, don’t behave like Zimbabwe. What a statement! But even after that, the way Indian Cricket (Board + Selection Committee) has come out with this sloppy selection affair, Chappell’s face will fall looking at the way Indian cricket bows to its superstars. Listening to the truth creates a bitter taste, and that’s what Greg and Ian Chappell tried conveying, but they received a strong reaction from the superstar coterie. The writing is on the wall, in fact, was on the wall for the last 1-2 years with repeated injuries to the superstar, but who has courage to read and accept it? Not Indian Cricket for sure.


Then my dear readers, do we need to know another reason for our World Cup debacle?

Author: Agnel Pereira- Bahrain


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