Like a Bollywood formlua-movie that can never disappoint, the new selection committee deferred hard/bad decisions for a while yet and delivered a “formula-selection” instead. Perhaps this selection committee did not like arguments either, for, according to Niranjan Shah, former-Secretary of BCCI, talking to “players about their retirement plans which may lead to arguments!”
The selection is along predictable lines with the likely XI (in batting order) as follows:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk)
Anil Kumble (capt)
Bench-warmers: Munaf Patel, RP Singh, S Badrinath, Amit Mishra
Perhaps a really strong performance from Badrinath in the Irani Trophy might have edged out Ganguly. However, in the absence of that, the selectors may have gone down the “formula” route!
What is worrying to read is that the selectors went down the reinstate-Ganguly route because they feared that Ganguly might retire if not picked! According to reports, Ganguly had reportedly considered quitting cricket after being overlooked for the Irani Cup match between RoI and Delhi. So?
While it is nice to see S. Badrinath enter the fray, he may hang around like Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif did and whither away. So the only change from the team that fared badly in Sri Lanka is that Rohit Sharma and Pragyan Ojha make way for Badrinath and Amit Mishra, while Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel make way for M. S. Dhoni.
There is nothing imaginative about this selection. It is disappointing that a bold and dashing cricketer like Kris Srikkanth did not use this opportunity to strike a bold and courageous path forward. Selectors get paid to set future directions, develop a strategy and then implement them. This selector has aparently thought that his task is to assemble together a bunch of people to play the next game. And if that is the metric, my nine year-old nephew would have done a similar job — and could also do with the 25 lakhs in his back pocket!
Meanwhile, Australia’s already depleted spin-stocks took a turn for the worse when Bryce McGain was ruled out of the first (and maybe even the second) Test with a back strain. This will mean a Test debut for Jason Krejza. I can’t see Jason Krejza doing much damage and Australia may make a Gavin Robertson out of another spinner after all!
First Bhajji, now Roy
We all know that Symonds is no angel (which the Aussie press sometimes makes him out to be). Neither is Harbhajan Singh – the two protagonists in the center of the racism row that erupted in Australia last summer. When Harbhajan slapped his fellow Indian team mate playing for a rival team in an IPL game, he copped a eleven match IPL suspension and a further 5 match ban from the BCCI. He was also warned that he could face a life ban if he crossed the line again.
Now it is the turn of Symonds to face disciplinary action for his transgressions. He was thrown out of the Australian team after he skipped a compulsory team meeting to go fishing – that’s right, fishing! He is going to miss the entire Bangladesh series and is not a surety to make it to the Australian team for the India tour.
Harbhajan has been on his best behaviour since his return –looks like being out of the team (and losing a lot of money in the process) has had a positive effect on him. Hopefully, it will work for Symmo as well.
Australia “A” vs India “A”
The India and Australia A teams are going to face up this month – This should be an interesting contest and here is my list of people to look out for on either side of the fence –
Both teams have players who are trying to impress the selectors and break into the senior team. Shikhar Dhawan who performed brilliantly in the Emerging players tournament in Australia is sadly injured and had to make way for Virat Kohli, who opened for India in the ODIs – but is actually a middle order batsman. India as usual are trying to make an opener out of a middle order batsman.
Funny that India’s choice of openers have always been middle order batsmen or wicket keepers! Maybe India should have also included Dinesh Karthik and let him open the innings with Parthiv Patel :).
Although Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina are playing the ODI games in the senior squad regularly, it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to have included them for the test matches. Manpreet Gony could have also been considered.
For the Aussies, this tour is going to be one big try out session for its spinners. They have three in the squad – Bryce McGain, Jason Krejza and Beau Casson. McGain is 36 years old – which some may consider as too old, but he was impressive in domestic cricket last season and as long as he is fit, his performance is the only thing that should really matter. Casson bowls left arm chinamans and has already made his debut for Australia, while Jason Krejza bowls right arm off break. One of the three is sure to find a spot in the senior team when they tour India later this year. Shaun Tait will only play in the ODI series, but it will be his first major outing since he decided to take a break from cricket. Simon Katich may also end up in the senior squad as he plays spin well and could also be a good back-up opener.
Dhoni tops ICC batting rankings
After consistent performances with the bat, Dhoni has topped the ICC ODI rankings. No Indian has been at the top of the rankings since Sachin Tendulkar vacated that position several months (or is it years?) ago. Dhoni has curbed his natural game and modified the way he plays and this has had a positive effect not only on his statistics, but also on the Indian team results. I have always felt that Dhoni would make a great ODI opener, but the sad thing is that he may never again play in that position 😦 (He has only opened the innings for India twice but still has a high score in the nineties!)
Posted in Cricket
Tagged Badrinath, Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Kaif, Katich, McGain, Noffke, Parthiv, Piyush Chawla, Pujara, Sreesanth, Symonds, Tait, Uthappa, Voges
I have been reading a lot of reports in Australian newspapers that Stuart MacGill’s injury is a big set back to Australia when they play India this summer. IMHO, it is the exact opposite.
No disrespect to MacGill – he is a great wrist spinner, probably the best in Australia since Warney retired. But the fact is that India have always played spin well. Even the greatest spinner of all time – Shane Warne has struggled against India. His average of 47.18 is in stark contrast to his career average of 25.41. Clearly the Indians play spin well. If you look at MacGill’s stats against India, it is a modest 14 wickets @ 50.78 in 4 tests. Even if McGill played he wouldn’t have been a big threat. Now that he is out of the equation, the other spinners in the scheme of things appear to be an even lesser threat –
- Brad Hogg, who has bowled reasonably well against India in ODI matches but Test cricket is an altogether different game
- Dan Cullen, who bowls off break and has played one test against Bangladesh
- Bryce McGain, the Victorian leggie who is the leading wicket taker among spinners in the domestic tournament this season.
Spin bowling appears to be the weakest link in the Australian bowling attack. The best strategy for Australia would be to play all four fast bowlers – Lee, Tait, Johnson and Clark. Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke can act as relief slow bowlers. Fast bowling is Australia’s strength and they should use it. They should do this even in Sydney and Adelaide where there is chance of turn in the wicket. If MacGill is fully fit, the thought of playing 4 fast bowlers would never arise (except maybe at the WACA), and that is why MacGill’s injury is a bad thing for India and its supporters.