It is not every day that a skeptic like me decides to praise anyone related to the Indian cricket fraternity especially the selectors, who we all think are basically incompetent fools whose cricketing logic is not as good as ours. However, in the last few months, starting from the test series against Australia, the selectors have not done a bad job and that is somehow evident from the results – after all results are supposed to be the biggest indicators of the success of a system or an individual, so to speak! India have a demanding schedule following the Champions Trophy where they play Sri Lanka and West Indies and after that they will play Zimbabwe and Australia in limited overs matches and later on have full tours of South Africa and New Zealand.
Just by looking at this exacting schedule, anyone may feel tired and we can only try and understand what the cricketers might be feeling. This is where the selectors play an important role – of taking important decisions like whom to rest and whom to rotate so as to make sure every key player is alive with good amount of rest. The challenge is to make sure that players are never overworked. This also shows how hard they need to work and what sorts of effort they need to put in to make sure the team has a good chance of coming out on top. Surprisingly enough, Indian selectors have been doing this well over the years!
I shall start with the England series of late 2012 when the team lost 2-1 in the test series to elucidate my point. It was an encounter of immense importance for the team as well as the common fans as the team had been blanked 4-0 in 2011 back at the Old Blighty. The team’s loss was predictably not well taken by the common people who bayed for the blood of Dhoni and wanted massive changes in the team. However, to their credit, the selectors kept their heads at it and kept an almost unchanged team for the test series against Australia. They only made some small, yet necessary, changes like a new opening partnership of Dhawan and Vijay and the introduction of swing bowler Bhuvaneshwar Kumar in the team following his exploits against Pakistan in the limited over matches that preceded the tests.
To their credit they have also been strong enough to let go of senior players like Sehwag, Gambhir and Zaheer who for long were not able to perform to the levels that were expected of them. In the ongoing Champions Trophy too, the team seems to have been properly chosen even though I would have liked to have seen Ajinkya Rahane in the team instead of Amit Mishra. But obviously, the team has so far justified the selection and progressed to the title clash, where many are expecting it to be triumphant.
The selectors also operate within tried and tested patterns. For instance, in case MS Dhoni wants to take rest or is unable to play a test match or a one dayer, there are ready replacements like Wriddhiman Saha and Dinesh Karthik. Similarly, the case of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar cannot be called an inspired selection only as he has been part of the ‘A’ team and, thus, has been primed to take over the mantle of a leading bowler as and when the chance arises.
It is true that Indian cricket is riddled with problems at various levels, but as they say that not everything can be totally bad or good and, as balanced individuals, it is necessary to give credit where it is due – the selectors are always lambasted in case of poor performances, now they need to be praised when India is doing well!
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