Context: I am, like many other Indians, terribly pissed-off at the handling of Rahul Dravid by the selectors in the latest round of selection (in)decisions. Yes, as Sam Kumar says philosophically in the comments section on this blog, “Let us move on… taking the dog out this morning, the sun did come up from the East and it will go down in the West this evening… Such is Life!”
Yes, that’s right Sam, but unfortunately, just as the sun will continue to rise in the East and set in the West, so will the mediocrity that represents Indian Cricket administration. I will continue to maintain that Indian cricket performs well despite the administration.
It is not as if the dropping of Rahul Dravid — it is not a “rest” but a “drop” — is necessarily a bad thing. It is the total lack of a strategic framework within which this “drop” has taken place. This suggests a lack of vision that is necessary to back intent. This singling out of Rahul Dravid is the sort of thing that convinces me that the BCCI establishment does everything it can to stop the Indian team from winning.
Is Rahul Dravid part of a rotation policy that the selectors have been talking of ever since the Twenty20 victory? If he is, we are, at best, second-guessing the existence of such a policy. The right way to implement a rotation policy in a home series, in my view, would be like how Australia do it. They announce clearly at the start of the series that they would be resting certain players just after their “home ODI games”, for example. So, Glen McGrath might be rested after a Sydney game, Adam Gilchrist after a Perth game, Ricky Ponting after a Hobart game, etc. The selectors then back this up with a XV as well as a pool of other players who would be drafted in when a specific rotation kicks in. For example, to bring in Brad Haddin instead of Adam Gilchrist, Stuart Clark instead of Glen McGrath. In other words, a like-for-like replacement which would suggest a well planned policy backed by a strategic vision.
A like-for-like rotation policy would have (say) S. Badrinath playing when Dravid is rested; Gautam Gambhir playing when Sourav Ganguly is rested; Rohit Sharma playing when Tendulkar is rested; etc.
That calls for a vision/foresight and then planning as well as an operational strategy that falls in line with that. Are the Indian selectors incapable of such meticulous planning? What are they getting paid for then?
“We are like this only” seems to be the mantra.
So we are presented with no other options but to second guess a sorry bunch of people. These same selectors indicated that there would be a rotation policy prior to the Australian series. The only thing that rotated was the roulette wheel that paid the selectors a hefty sum of money at the end of the series.
The case of Dilip Vengsarkar is strange. He shines one day and flip-flops the next. It seems like his selection decisions are as confused as his batting was: elegant in patches, a ferocious monster against a weak attack, terrible when he is not with it and like a rabbit caught in the headlights when the environment is fiery.
He has to learn from the Australians. They just don’t make statements like, “Where is the bench strength?” or “There is a dearth of left arm spinners. Show me the left armers.” They work quietly and efficiently with the various teams to groom future players like Cameron White, Cullen Bailey, Mitchell Johnson, James Hopes, Phil Jaques and Ben Hilfenhaus.
It is fair to say that Indian cricket perhaps made its strongest strides under the “reign” of Kiran More as Chief Selector. There was clarity of vision and purpose. Most of the current “bench strength” that Dilip Vengsarkar raved about immediately after the Twenty20 victory was built and groomed by Kiran More. There weren’t confusing signals everytime he opened his mouth to speak and he had the BCCI Secretaries under check.
In the wake of this most recent selection, Vegsarkar said, “At this stage Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir are the middle-order batsmen, and waiting in the wings are Manoj Tiwari, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma. So we have a lot of options.” Someone should have reminded him that he and his team actually chose Rohit Sharma in the team for the first two ODIs against Pakistan! Was Vengsarkar asleep at the wheel? Has this man lost the plot?
Bring back Kiran More, I say…