Hardik Pandya and Mayank Agarwal: Two ends of the selection spectrum
There were days when to become a Test player one had to grind through the domestic cricket. It took a performance of at least four to five seasons to get you in the reckoning for Indian national side.
The experience of grinding in domestic cricket day in and day out, made players realize the importance of hard work. Players had to earn their call to the national side. A call which came after rigors of four to five years had to be answered with full might.
Players used to put all their energy and soul, to turn that one call into a regular place in the Indian Test side. As they knew, if they were not going to cash in on this opportunity then another opportunity may never come.
Lately, the scenario has changed, one season of exceptional IPL performance can get you a call for Indian national side as is the case of Hardik Pandya and. While the other way around, even after grinding for many seasons in domestic cricket if you fail to perform during your IPL stint, then you are labeled as a batsman who cannot play against world class bowlers.
This defies logic, considering the fact that slam-bang cricket where you have to hit from the word go cannot test your technique, patience, perseverance or temperament, which are required in abundance in test cricket.
Hence, It is not the right sample size to test a player's caliber to play the longest form of cricket. One of the examples of this treatment is Mayank Agarwal, who has scored loads of runs for India A and Karnakata, his domestic side.
Since Mayank has failed to make an impact during the opportunities provided to him during the IPL, it is said that he is not good enough to play against top bowlers around the world.
Another example is Vidarbha opening batsman Faiz Fazal, who in spite of piling on runs, season after season, is ignored, the reason being he has never been able to get into the limelight since he has never been selected by any IPL franchise. A prolific opening batsman is getting ignored in spite of Indian national side's opening woes.
Since IPL is a T-20 tournament it makes sense to call a player for national T-20 side or if we are going far then for ODI side on the basis of an exceptional IPL season. But, calling or ignoring a player for the national Test side on the basis of one or two seasons of IPL performance is baffling, to say the least.
This is a lethargic selection process for the form of cricket where quick fix solutions do not work and which requires the best version of a cricketer. In Test cricket, the smallest of chinks in your armor are put on display in front of the whole world. There is no back door to success in Test cricket.
Even the best of the best find it difficult at times and grind to re-invent themselves time and time again. Who can forget Sachin Tendulkar's patient knock of 241 in Sydney where he took the offside play out of his game as he was getting out repeatedly while playing the cover drive, that is the kind of discipline you require to play Test cricket.
It is time to go back to the old school of team selection process where a player had to win many hearts before he could qualify for the final show-down, otherwise, the lack of character and absence of grit will make the saga of overseas failures to continue.