If one ever allowed the thought to enter one's mind, that the 'tour' to the land of the beaches and rum was an affair soaked in seriousness, then the Indian selectors have put enough spanners in the works. No Sachin Tendulkar, no Zaheer Khan, no Virender Sehwag, and no Suresh Raina, Munaf Patel or Irfan Pathan in the squad means that almost all associated with Indian cricket consider this to be an academic series with the only interest lying in trying out some new faces, and old faces with new outlooks on the tour before the team disappears for a break during the next few months. Of course, with the selectors not having the option of playing robots in the squad, the move was very much on the anticipated lines and correct.
Without wanting to sound like a conspiracy theorist out to gun down the innocent, of all the players shuffled around, and it is a considerably long list, I was most interested to read the expulsion of Suresh Raina. The official grounds for that was a hairline fracture that he sustained during the ICC World T20, but as far as the mind goes, there was no such talk of an injury during the tournament. Without meaning to falsify the report, my concern here is about it being an another instance of the lack of transparency, almost akin to the previous one; officially none of the common public knows where the problem occurred and whether Raina actually featured in one or more games in the tournament with that issue.
One almost gets a sense that if M.S.Dhoni had had a reasonable ICC World T20 campaign and had his deputy Sehwag been fit enough to be a part of the squad, there was a more than a fat chance that Jharkhand would have had the chance to worship their hero a lot earlier than the rest of the states; Dhoni would have been provided with the opportunity to rest his creaking limbs and the fast-changing Nasser Hussain-like fingers.
As it has turned out, Sehwag, and more importantly the BCCI, has realised that a grade-I tear in the shoulder can only be aggravated by allowing one of your best batsman to even face the cold of England, let alone allow him to bat in the nets, and suitably rested him from the tour. In turn, Team India's crashing out of the preceding tournament - which for unlike Dhoni's counterpart in Pakistan, isn't all about fun for the Indian captain - has ensured that Dhoni will need to test his body against the rigours of another half a dozen flights, squat more than 1300 times and try and achieve a small matter of getting India back on the winning road. I am sure Dhoni had been waiting for this series ever since the turn of this century.
Naah, it has nothing to do with the IPL mate, you can go to hell Gary!
The flip to this well-planned - or ill-planned, depending on which side of the fence you wish to sit - series is that almost half the side gets a long-awaited opportunity to get into the shoes of their seniors and make a statement. The biggest surprise is Ashish Nehra, whose obvious strong showing in the previous seasons of the IPL has won him the place to get to West Indies after four years of wilderness from international cricket. On his part, Nehra would be in complete cognizance of the fact that this is his best chance to convert the toehold that he has obtained in the national side to something more consistent and meaningful.
In fact, with kind of cricket that the team has had to play in this day and age, the example of Nehra could bring about the start of a new trend in Indian cricket; more regular examples of Team-B going around the world once the game gets played on a more consistent basis than it is now. Er...yes, say, like all seasons in the year so that moolah keeps flowing in and much like the Commonwealth games of 1998 and it's in-parallel played Sahara Cup in Toronto, the golden-egg laying hen participates in many more of those concurrent tournaments as well, across the globe!
And then, channel-flipping during ad-breaks would be so much more on predictable lines!