I was recently reading this interview in The Hindustan Times by Dilip Vengsarkar, the Indian Chairman of Selectors. There was a comment by Vengsarkar on the composition of India-A sides that got me thinking.
Vengsarkar said that in his view, “the BCCI must organise [India-A tours] on a war footing“. I don’t think any Team India fan would disagree with him on that view. I am not sure if the BCCI is listening though! There is no reason why India-A should not be continually on tour to some part of the globe. An alternative would be for India-A and India-B to constantly play against each other! Why not? How else would you know if, for example, Munaf Patel has tested himself in a match situation?
Vengsarkar then says that, in his opinion, “the right age group would be the under-25s“.
I am not sure I agree with that view. I think India-A should include players who are on the fringes of national-team selection and if they happen to be under 25 years of age, then so be it.
If we take the current Team India that is in the UK as the representative team of the moment, then we can think of the following players who are on the fringes of national selection (for Tests matches).
Virender Sehwag, Aakash Chopra, Gautam Gambhir
Dinesh Mongia, Suresh Raina, Mohammed Kaif, S. Badrinath, Venugopala Rao, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara, Robin Uthappa
Parthiv Patel, Puneet Bisht
Munaf Patel, Ajit Agarkar, V Yo Mahesh, Rakesh Patel, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, Joginder Sharma, V. R. V. Singh
Harbhajan Singh, Rajesh Pawar, Piyush Chawla, Murali Kartik, K. P. Appanna
I may have missed some names. If I have, please add them to the Comments section and I will update this list a few days later…
Note that only some of these 27 players are under-25. But most of them are often mentioned in the context of being on the verge of consideration of national duties. I think that a subset of this set of players should constantly play either in some part of the world or in India against each other. That is the only way to (a) keep the seniors honest, (b) ensure that people like Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel are match-fit, (c) ascertain true bench strength, (d) sharpen match skills of players in a slightly higher-intensity setting than the Ranji Trophy setting.