Once again, we saw one of the good players making a comeback to the team and doing well. Yes, we are talking about India’s Turbanator- Harbhajan Singh. Harbhajan, who last played for India in August 2011 vs England in a Test, made a superb comeback against the same team and produced a match winning performance by taking four wickets in his four overs, conceding just 12 runs.
After Kumble’s retirement, Harbhajan was expected to play the lead role in the spin department but he failed horribly in doing that. Since Kumble’s retirement, Harbhajan has played 27 tests and has picked up 102 wickets. But he failed to do well on foreign soil versus the strong teams. In spite of his poor performance, he was kept in the side and was given many chances. But after first two test matches in England last year, he was dropped as he could pick up only 1 wicket in 2 tests. He played the full Ranji season but didn’t do well on spin friendly tracks. He led Mumbai Indians to their first ever title in 2011 CLT20 but could not do the magic with the ball. MI reached Semis in IPL-2012 but Bhajji again failed to do well with the ball. Then Harbhajan did the right thing by going to England and playing some cricket for Essex. Though he didn’t take many wickets, he was able to bowl in the right areas and made few changes in his run-up. So keeping him out for sometime helped him.
In India, we normally make a good player bigger than the game, which is wrong. We have seen in the past, a great player not performing well and being in the side just because of his name. To discuss a few, Sourav Ganguly and Zaheer Khan. Yes, Dada had his controversies with Greg Chappell but at that time he wasn’t doing well with the bat. Even the hundred which he scored vs Zimbabwe, it was a very ordinary knock by his standard. But he was not only sacked as a captain, but was also dropped from the team. He went back to Ranji, played county and made a superb comeback on fast wickets of South Africa. Zaheer Khan was also not bowling well and he was also shown the doors and he struggled, played for Worcestershire and made a great comeback and has been performing well since then. Yuvraj was also dropped from the squad but was Man of The series in the WC-2011.
Sometimes, good players take their place in the team for granted which is not correct. Every player should know that he has to perform to retain his place in the side. I am not saying one bad series and a player should be sacked. But when player is not scoring runs or taking wickets and is clearly struggling with his form, then the player should be dropped. This will only help the player as in India, media criticizes non-performers a lot and going by current trend, social network also doesn’t help. A player can go back to the domestic cricket, can be away from the glamour and media and focus only on cricket. We have institutions like NCA and MRF Pace foundation where we have few good coaching staff who can help the players in getting back on the track. By performing well in the domestic cricket, an out of form player can get his confidence back and can come back with a positive mindset at the highest level. Also there are chance that sometimes a player would make a comeback as a better player and that is what we have seen in Zaheer Khan’s case, as since he made his comeback vs SA in December 2006, he has been the spearhead of Indian pace attack. Also, sometimes giving too many chance to non-performers doesn’t send the right message to fellow players and also to the reserve players. Rohit Sharma in Sri Lanka was clearly struggling and so Ajinkya Rahane could have played a game or two but MSD kept on giving him chances but Rohit failed to do well.
Though I am not a huge Bhajji fan, I am happy to see him doing well. And keeping him out of the side has surely helped him and eventually it will help Indian Cricket Team as well.