Selectors must invest in youth…

The Twenty20 World Championship win by M. S. Dhoni’s Men in Blue has provided a much-needed breath of fresh air for Indian cricket. After the disappointment of the early and embarassing exit from the World Cup 2007 this was what Indian cricket needed. And it was secured by a fearless captain who does things his way. It was secured by a young team that played in the spirit of its captain. And this, I believe, is the blueprint for future success for India. The team has to dismantle the shackles — some self-imposed, some imposed by the ‘system’ that the team is part of and some imposed by history — and play with self-belief and mental stregth.

And this investment in the future has to commence now.

The selectors have named a 15-member squad for the ODIs against Australia which reads (in possible batting order):

Sachin Tendulkar
Sourav Ganguly
Robin Uthappa / Gautam Gambhir / Dinesh Karthik
Rahul Dravid
Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt)
Irfan Pathan
Piyush Chawla
Ramesh Powar / Harbhajan Singh
RP Singh / Sreesanth
Zaheer Khan

Two things need to happen immediately, in my view.

First Piyush Chawla, who is injured, needs to be replaced. I would be very surprised if this replacememt is not Joginder Sharma.

Second, as a significant policy-shift the selectors need to, from now on, name 17-member teams for ODIs and further stipulate that only a maximum 2 of the seniors can play in any game! First, this would prolong the careers of the Tendulkar-Ganguly-Dravid troika. Second, it would also provide a platform for youngsters to express themselves.

M. S. Dhoni, when asked about the absence of the Big-3 in an interview that I read earlier on, made two important statements I thought. Firsty he said that it was important for his wards to get the appreciation of the seniors back home. And he has received that with Sourav Ganguly immediately recognising and applauding the teams’ efforts. But he also dealt with the issue of their absense with poise when he said, “I am sure if they had been here, they would have taken us to the final. If we do win the final, they can say that they couldn’t have done more than what his team has done. The way we have performed has been amazing.

With the above suggested changes to the ODI team to play Australia, I’d like to see the following team chosen (along with the rider that only 1 or 2 of Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid can play any game):

Sachin Tendulkar / Vierender Sehwag
Sourav Ganguly / Gautam Gambhir
Robin Uthappa / Dinesh Karthik
Rahul Dravid / Rohit Sharma
Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt)
Irfan Pathan
Joginder Sharma
Ramesh Powar / Harbhajan Singh
RP Singh / Sreesanth
Zaheer Khan

From the India team that won the Twenty20 World Championship, Ajit Agarkar, Piyush Chawla and Yusuf Pathan would, therefore not be chosen. Ajit Agrakar needs to decide which side of the bed he wants to get up — if he does! Piyush Chawla is injured and Yusuf Pathan would be, in my view, unlucky to miss out.

The first India-Australia ODI match is in Bangalore on Friday 29th September at 2.30pm IST (7pm Australia time).

Bring it on…

— Mohan

6 responses to “Selectors must invest in youth…

  1. Mohan,

    You are as passionate against Agarkar as you are for Joginder. This guy is another Agarkar!!! He runs in faster than he delivers. In the final, in the first two overs–as in the semis–kept bowling wide or full toss and it was sheer luck that batsmen stretched out and negated the wide calls! The last over could have gone either way–who would have thought that Misbah with such a talent try to paddle with 3 balls still left.

    I am not sure whether Joginder is capable of scoring 100 when he gets a chance to paly at Lord’s!!

  2. This would be the time to experiment the rotation policies that have been talked about for a long time. In the past, there no players

    2 or 3 of the big 3 could play a given match, while introducing youngsters and also rotation of bowlers.

    4 out of the Zaheer, RP, Irfan, SreeSanth, Powar, Harbhajan, Chawla could play a match.

    I agree that Joginder is going to be selected. He is apparently a successful bowler in domestic circuit. But he does not have the pace to trouble the batsmen.

    But fielding must be made essential for selection in one-day matches and not having to shield players.

    Hopefully Suresh Raina, Badrinath, Kaif will also get in the mix.

  3. Vish & I were discussing pretty much the same topic a few days ago. The alternative to your approach is basically to tell the seniors (Zaheer Khan included) that they will be selected only for x ODIs in a year to prolong their career and give the youth a chance.

    WIth India usually playing 30-35 ODIs in a year, x could be a number between 7 and 10.

  4. Sam, my plug for Joginder is consistent with my plug for a couple of “allrounders” in the team. For some time now, I have been saying (and so have others) that the team lacks bowling/batting allrounders. They are needed for the ODI game. Australia has Symonds. England has Flintoff. Sri Lanka has Jayasuriya. South Africa has Pollock, Kallis and Morkel. India has no one and so will languish in their current low position on the ODI table unless the team balance is addressed. That’s my hypothesis anyway. So, unless you can show me a better set of allrounders than Irfan Pathan and Joginder Sharma, I will continue to plug for them. They give you 6-8 overs every game and can also tonk the ball in the finsh-overs. I am also placing bets on Praveen Kumar (allrounder from UP). It is interesting to note that Manoj Tiwary has also put his hand up for the allrounder’s spot — he bowls legspin.

    — Mohan

  5. gnbmdr, pace is over-rated. Joginder’s pace will do.

    Mahesh, the advantage of bulking up the team to accommodate 17 players (at least for home-games) is that the seniors get to pass on their experience (and hopefully not their baggage as well) to the juniors. Don’t you think?

  6. Hmm….it is a bit unusual to name 17 players in a team, even for home games. There are merits to your argument about seniors passing on the experience to youngsters, but I feel having 6 non-playing members in the dressing room is a bit of a crowd.

    IMHO, we should follow the Aussie model, where people not in the playing XI or XII should be released to go home to play for their domestic side…(at least during a test series)

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