The Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy are the premier tournaments for selection and have always been so, but how many of the games are watched by selectors who are now paid to do so?
By Sunil Gavaskar
India’s cricket team is going through the horrors at the moment and while England have played remarkably well and are high on confidence, a lot of India’s problems have been brought about by being overconfident and complacent after the World Cup win. That tremendous victory made for joyous celebrations alright but it also made some people take it easy and that is where India finds itself in trouble.
International sport is such that it is tough to be away for a bit and then come back to the same competitive level immediately. It will happen of course if enough hard work is put in and if there is inherent talent but it does mean a few barren games. The preparedness that was seen before the world cup was conspicuous by its absence for the subsequent tours to West Indies and England.
True, there were injuries that upset the balance of the team and brought in inexperienced players into the fold but even here there were some whose selections were based on performances in a format that was other than the one that they were picked for. Far too often in India we have given India caps to players on the basis of scores in the IPL which is only a T20 tournament and so does not give a correct idea of the player’s skill level as well as his temperament. Just because the IPL has more viewership than the Ranji Trophy does not mean that the players who do well in that should get the India cap but have a look at some of the players picked for the ODIs and see if they have done well and been anywhere near selection for the Indian team again. So the caps were quite clearly undeserved and a waste.
The Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy are the premier tournaments for selection and have always been so, but how many of the games are watched by selectors who are now paid to do so? The selectors are seen at Test and international matches in India and that too even when the Ranji or Duleep games are going on and it would be far more productive if the selectors were out for those and look for new talent than go to a Test and see players whom they have seen so many times before. Mind you, with most if not all Ranji games being played without the international players it doesn’t always give a correct picture of the ability and temperament of the player. Still to ignore that is not a smart thing to do.
What has been hard to understand is why those who have been picked are unbale to get visas and get to England in time for the matches. Aren’t standby selected along with the team? And if so, aren’t they informed that they should keep themselves ready physically and mentally to leave at a moment’s notice. Aren’t the visas done for the standbys too or is it only for those actually selected to go on tour. The delay in R.P. Singh and now Ravindra Jadeja coming in makes one wonder if there’s been any information exchange at all between the selectors and the players.
If R.P.Singh’s selection to replace Zaheer Khan smacked of a left -arm seamer coming in for another left-hander, Jadeja coming for an opening batsman shows confused thinking when there have been so many batsmen who could have come in as replacement. If Jadeja does get to England in time for the remaining matches the management may not want to play him but with injuries coming thick and fast it could well be only eleven fit men on the day who can take the field for India. Of course detractors will once again blame the IPL for the injuries but the fact is that India is not yet a fitness conscious country and prefers skills rather than fitness that is more athletic than cricketing.
The shorter formats of the game requires more athleticism than the Test version but skills still have to be paramount and there has to be a healthy blend of the two. England dropped Samit Patel because he was too heavy at one stage and while he has not dropped too much weight the England selection committee seems to be satisfied with him. In any case if looks were to be the criteria for selection then models have a good chance to play international cricket than those ordinary looking ones.
India will look to salvage some face in the one-day series and being the world cup champs will be a factor in the confidence level but as we saw in the Test series being number one does not guarantee anything excepting that those below will be gunning hard for you.