Amidst the glitz, glamour and excitement of the Indian Premier League –5, there was a significant announcement, if you are an ardent Indian cricket fan, which went unnoticed. This was the announcement of the India “A” team for the tour of the Caribbean by the national section committee. India “A” team selections have never invited public outcry or have had the same mileage on the news channels with experts discussing it for hours like they do when the mainstream Indian team is selected. However these selections are equally significant if not more, as they gives us a closer look at the next best and how they fare in the conditions alien to them, against an opposition which is more challenging than facing any of the Ranji or zonal teams in the domestic competition.
Now coming to the team selection, first look at the 15-man squad and I was wondering where have the bowlers gone? While the batting looked decent with Cheteshwar,Mukund,Rahane,Manoj Tiwary,Rohit Sharma,Shikhar Dhawan & Robin Bist (rewarded for being the top scorer in last Ranji season),I was wondering what were RP Singh (7 matches 14 wickets at 51.42),Shami Ahmed (4 matches 10 wickets at 44.10),Rahul Sharma (2 matches 7 wickets at 44.57) & Jalaj Saxena ,who seems to have been selected as an off spinning all-rounder, (86 runs at 28 and 3 wickets at 31 in 2 Ranji matches the whole season!) doing in the squad? Now the question is are these really the “next” best bunch of bowlers we have in a country with a population of more than 1.2 billion people? If the answer is yes, God save the Indian cricket fan, for there could be more agony in store than the ecstasy watching Indian team play in future.
So who are the deserving ones to miss out? To start with let’s look at the bowlers who were the performers in the last domestic season. If Akshay Darekar & Ashok Dinda are rewarded for their consistent show in the last Ranji Season why are Pankaj Singh, Awana or even Harshal Patel for that matter, ignored? There was also a case of including Abhimanyu Mithun, who was one of the five pacers on the tour to Australia. Rahul Sharma’s place could have gone to someone like Harbhajan Singh, who needs some overs under his belt more than the 4 overs per match in IPL or R. Ashwin, who seems low on confidence at the moment. However an empty bench when it comes to quality spinners should be a cause of huge concern for selectors. Among the batsmen, Jalaj Saxena’s place should have gone to the promising Suryakumar Yadav (922 runs at 71 in 10 matches) who not only scored runs in the Ranji trophy but scored them when his team needed them the most.
Sooner the BCCI does away with the quota system when it comes to selection of senior or junior Indian teams & makes the selection process more transparent , the better it would be for the future of Indian cricket and that ardent Indian cricket fan too will have plenty to look forward to in future.
India A squad
Cheteshwar Pujara (capt), Wriddhiman Saha (vice-capt), Abhinav Mukund, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Rahul Sharma, Ashok Dinda, Jalaj Saxena, RP Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Robin Bist, Akshay Darekar, Shami Ahmed