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Selectors fall back on experience
by Partab Ramchand
Oct 31, 2006
Given that the Indian team have just experienced their most disastrous home campaign in the limited overs game one would have thought that the new selection committee would freely wield the axe when it came to selecting the squad for the tour of South Africa where the visitors are scheduled to play a series of five one-day matches. But the Dilip Vengsarkar led committee has by and large gone in for the tried and tested players continuing to show a lot of trust in them. It can be said with some certainty that the trust in some of the players is misplaced.

All the same the 50-year-old former Indian captain admitted that there were concerns aplenty particularly in the wake of the no show in the ICC Champions Trophy when the Indians against all expectations failed to make the semifinals. Naturally this figured in the discussions in Monday’s meeting and as Vengsarkar put it ``both the coach and captain are not happy with the performance. The players haven’t been in good form and that’s been the main problem. Our top five batsmen failed to stay till the end while our bowlers couldn’t get us early breakthroughs. But we can’t make wholesale changes.’’

Pray why not? When the chairman has admitted that there are problems right down the line isn’t it the right time to wield the axe? If not now, when? On the eve of the World Cup? But then Indian selection committees over the years have generally clung to the conservative method, the easy way out. Only rarely have they shown the gumption and the imagination required in certain situations. Drastic results call for drastic remedies and if the successive setbacks and the present lack of form do not warrant certain changes then one wonders what will move the selectors to go in for a mini metamorphosis. The team lost by four matches to one in the Caribbean, they failed to make the final of the DLF Cup in Kuala Lumpur (out of three teams, mind you) and failed to qualify for the semifinal of the ICC Champions Trophy staged in familiar home conditions. And yet the selectors are reluctant to make ``wholesale changes.’’ There is a limit to playing it safe.

There is not a single new face among the selected 16 and that does not speak well of preparing for the future. But then again Vengsarkar had a most alarming comment on the bench strength. ``There is not much talent around at the domestic level,’’ he said after the team was announced. ``There are many who are good at the first class level but I cannot say I have seen any exceptional talent.’’ Which means that the selectors will have to tinker with only some tried and tested 20 players and try to rotate them around and then let Greg Chappell experiment with them. Not a very healthy scenario for the tough times ahead in what is going to be a long and exhausting season culminating in the World Cup.

Given the paucity of good young players according to the chairman’s admission the selectors perhaps had no other option but to retain their faith in experience and besides showing faith in the current crop, they have even recalled Anil Kumble and Zaheer Khan besides opening the way for Wasim Jaffer to play his first one day international. The Mumbai batsman has an impeccable technique and a fine Test record but one has to remain skeptical of his role in the shorter version of the game – if in the first place he finds a place in the playing eleven. One has also to be skeptical of the team’s chances in South Africa given both their current indifferent form and their woeful record in that country.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 CricketArchive - syndicated to dreamcricket.com)

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