Selectors, in many ways, are the directors of the team. They are not only entrusted with the work of identifying and picking up players for the team, but more importantly, ensuring a vision in their pickings. But in India, team selection is nothing more than a two-hour meeting. It not only lacks any systematic way, but also any comprehensive talent spotting and assessment mechanism.
On Friday morning when the BCCI selectors gathered to announce the Indian cricket team for the series against New Zealand, the entire fraternity of Indian cricket fans was expecting, apart from a sane selection, the selection committee to ponder over the eight straight oversees Test defeats and respond to that. But the Kris Srikkanth-headed selection committee again baffled the fans and posed more questions than answers by its bizarre and inexplicable picks.
The spotlight this time automatically shifted on the young crop of batsmen as there were some vacancies. Selectors had to clear the air about who would replace Rahul Dravid. There were some more plausible and legitimate questions in the mind of cricket fans. Will Zaheer Khan and Virendra Sehwag be deemed fit? Will Yuvraj Singh be called by the selectors? Also, will VVS Laxman find a place in the team after his miserable last series? And would there be some selection made considering the future series?
But it seems the selectors decided to put the question sheet into their pockets. Instead of clearing the air, the selection seems to have flummoxed the fans more. Yuvraj’s comeback in the international T20 side only indicates the sympathies of selectors as he is yet to prove match fitness. His selection can be excluded from the perplexing list as he has got some chances to prove his match fitness – the two T20 match against New Zealand and the Buchi Babu tournament.
But there are many other picks that do not make any sense. Suresh Raina’s inclusion in the Test team can be an indication that the selectors are worried about Rohit Sharma’s form and want him to go back to domestic cricket as they denied him a place in the Test squad. But what on earth impressed the selectors about Sharma to include him in the World Cup probables? And then what has Raina done to make himself a Test batsman from the last time he was dropped from the Test team? Ajinkya Rahane’s absence from the T20s side is also difficult to understand.
The selection of spinners looks more incomprehensible. Piyush Chawla has been recalled in both Tests and the T20s. It is worth mentioning here that he was not even considered for India A’s last tour. Given his poor IPL and Ranji Trophy performances, his selection is the most confounding one. And to everyone’s surprise, Rahul Sharma paid the price of the inclusion of Chawla and he was shown the door from both, Tests and the T20s. It’s better for the BCCI to come out in the open and ostensibly state that it’s the disciplinary action against him for his alleged involvement in the rave parties than indirectly led to him getting dumped.
And spare a though for Pragyan Ojha. Despite his continuous impressive performance in the domestic matches, IPL, home Tests and even in ODIs, his exclusion from the Tests is enigmatic. At least, he could fetch some variety with himself. On surface, Harbhajan Singh, with his presence would bring some maturity in the inexperienced bowling line-up.
While the presence of L. Balaji is understandable and can be treated as a secure gamble played by the selectors, Pravin Kumar’s absence still eludes. And then there is another peculiar move as the third fast bowler for the Test team, Ishant Sharma, who hasn’t proved his match fitness yet, has been offered a place.
And last but not the least, Virat Kohli is no more the vice-captain of the T20 side, a reward conferred upon him for the superb performance in the recently concluded Sri Lanka tour. Gautam Gambhir has been given this responsibility. Also, the selection committee didn’t take the painstaking job of deciding the vice-captain for the Test side.
It’s a pity, but not a jolt, that the selection committee once again perplexed many with their selections. This was the last act of the Srikkanth-headed committee as a unit, since their term comes to an end in September. This selection committee has been renowned for committing embarrassing errors. The present selection committee will go and the new committee will come and we will perhaps spot them committing the same mistakes. After all, the problem is with the mechanism not with the people.