What has Jadeja done wrong to be on the sidelines?
At the beginning of the highly anticipated Test series against England, the Indian team management had a big decision to make. They had to choose from two players, a player who was third in the World Rankings for Test bowlers and second in the World Rankings for Test All-rounders, or a player who, according to many, has huge potential because he plays attacking cricket and has the ability to bowl medium pace bowling.
Going by the English conditions, which are more favourable for fast-bowling, the Indian team went with the fast-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya. Ravindra Jadeja was again left out of the playing XI in an overseas Test.
Ravindra Jadeja has been labelled as a bowler who does not do well in overseas conditions and his Test record in overseas conditions is a testimony to this. In 10 overseas Tests, Jadeja has taken only 34 wickets at an average of 36.82. However, there is an interesting trivia about Jadeja and overseas Tests. The last Test that Jadeja played in overseas conditions (counting only England, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand), was the 2014 Pataudi trophy in England. So practically speaking, Jadeja played an overseas Test four years and it is only the preconceived notion that he is not a good overseas player that has kept him out of the side since then.
Strangely, this period of 4 years also coincides with Kohli's tenure as the Indian captain. Kohli is known for his 'horses for courses' selection policy and unfortunately Jadeja has been the soft casualty.
The important question that needs to be answered is whether a player should be judged on how he performed four years ago? Jadeja has done everything he could have as a Test bowler and that is the reason why he is still sitting pretty at third place in Test bowler's ranking. Isn't the team management making a huge dent to a players confidence by avoiding him series after series in overseas conditions? Shouldn't Jadeja be given more chances considering the fact that he is more experienced than before? Or is it that the team management has made up their minds that Jadeja is not a good enough bowler to perform in overseas conditions. And if that is the case, why is he even selected in the squad?
Pandya, who is widely tipped to be the next Kapil Dev, doesn't boost of a good Test record either. Pandya has taken only 10 wickets in 9 Tests, 5 of which were played in pacer-friendly pitches of South Africa and England. His batting hasn't been spectacular either. Apart from his sensational knock of 93 runs in the first Test against South Africa at Cape Town earlier this year, Pandya hasn't played any meaningful knocks for the team and his technique has often been exposed in Tests.
Although Jadeja might not have achieved what he would have liked on the batting front but he has played some defining knocks, like his knocks of 68 against England at Lord's four years ago and an innings of 63 against Australia at Dharamsala, in his Test career. May be the think-tank should stop forcing Pandya to be the fast-bowling all-rounder that India has been searching for and his limited-overs performances shouldn't be a criteria for his selection in the Test side. Also, Pandya isn't doing much with the ball, so it won't be a bad idea to include a spin-bowling all-rounder, keeping in mind England's weakness against spin.
In the ongoing Test series, in second Test at Lords, India decided to play with two spinners but the second spinner was Kuldeep Yadav, whom the English batsmen tackled pretty well in the latter half of the ODI series. The team management is doing no good by making a senior spinner feel unwanted. The captain and the team management should give security to the players and allow them to express themselves rather than neglecting them. The way the Indian team management is selecting the playing XI, it is highly unlikely that Jadeja will make it to the playing XI and if that happens Jadeja will have to consider himself extremely unlucky.