We will keep waiting for you, Badri
Yet another selection takes place and yet again S. Badrinath, who is the most deserving of the lot to feature, misses out. This has now become a routine irrespective of change in the selection panels. Badri has seen a generation of players like Yuvraj, Pujara, Kohli, Murali Vijay, Raina, Abinav Mukund, Rahane come and go past him and make the selection cut. People keep asking why the spot after Ganguly’s retirement is a huge void. Just look at those names above and only 2 of them – Pujara and Kohli – look settled for a long Test career. The rest of them are cats on the wall.
They say he is now ageing and is not an asset in terms of a Test career. I had always believed the criteria for selection was always based on performance and not age. Otherwise, if it was age, then there would be no Sachin Tendulkar to score 100 centuries or a Rahul Dravid, who waited 15 years to score those extra 5 runs at Lord’s. After all, it is not Badri’s fault to keep waiting when the giants of the Indian middle order were in full swing. He was just unlucky to be born at that time.
Everyone speaks so high of Virat Kohli, but it was established on high amounts of trust and belief by his captain and team; who knows how Kohli would be today (in terms of Tests) if he was not given another opportunity at the Perth Test. Badri deserves such a fair chance too. He played in just two Tests against the touring South Africans in 2010. He even scored a patient half century on debut but soon was undone by the magnificence of Steyn. It is natural for any cricketer, but the judgement was made too early. More than Badri failing miserably, it has always been people who desperately wanted him to fail. He failed in the ODI series in the Caribbean, but what is the point of leaving him out of the Test series?
The most saddening part of his selection woes is the latest one before an all-important home series against England. Everyone was talking about who will make the cut. They portrayed a battle among Yuvraj, Rahane and Raina. I was left in disbelief when Badri’s name was not even considered. Then I saw the result somewhere, calling him unlucky. Bloody hell yeah, he is unlucky! Then why on Earth are you not advocating his name? Raina never has had the backing of a reasonable good first class career or the temperament to shine as a Test match player. Tiwari will soon become another Badri a few years down the line if he is treated the same way he has been over the past couple of years. But at least he was luckier than Badri to get the bench.
The bid for Yuvraj needs a more inner perspective and deep thought. Let me remind everyone that even Yuvraj is also 30 years old and definitely not an asset if that is for what you are sidelining Badri. But the story is a whole lot different and to an extent psychological. Everyone from the public to experts to the BCCI big shots to selection members are eager to see Yuvraj make a stunning comeback to international cricket. They want his return to be a success-story and rank it along the likes of Lance Armstrong. This is the very fundamental and hidden reason behind it. Yuvraj would have scored a double hundred, got a five-wicket haul, scoring a promising half century against England. But just draw contrast of those same performances for another cricketer who has failed previously at international Test level, would such relatively small performances gain that cricketer the prize of a slot in the playing eleven? Consistency should be regarded more important than form. Yuvraj averages just 45 in first class in contrast to Badri’s 60 in over 100 first class appearances and Tiwari averages 58 in 59 first class appearances. Even I want Yuvraj’s comeback story to be a successful one, but never ever at the cost of axing someone richly deserving: be it Badri or Tiwari.
Badri is just more than a domestic cricketer down here in Tamil Nadu. He is amongst the ranks of cricketing heroes and idols for the younger generation. It is not fair to brand him unlucky, but it is true he was denied justice. So Badri, yet another Ranji season awaits for you. Get out there and keep playing; they will ignore you; keep scoring centuries; you will not make the cut to the selection; pile up your domestic runs. Most of them have their eyes blind and ears def when it involves you. But you will remain a cricketing hero irrespective of which jersey you play for and we will keep waiting with you as long as you keep playing.