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What Is Deja Vu?

It is what Indian fans feel when their team is going through a bad phase or when the selection committee has recently been overhauled. Yes the team got thumped, when it should have been a lot more of a contest. Yes, more was expected of the unit even though many of the vital cogs have not been in the finest of touch of late. Yes, some serious thinking needs to be done before the World Cup campaign is embarked upon. That is all well and good, but Anil Kumble and Wasim Jaffer in our one day team? If ever there was an example of taking drastic measures, this is it.

Anil Kumle is a modern day great, in every sense of the phrase. He is as cunning, miserly and aggressive with the cricket ball in hand as Glen McGrath. Granted, he can even has the potential to bat a little better than McGrath. That is where the comparisons and superiority ends for Kumble. For all his greatness, he still has not learned the art of fielding and throwing. Kumble chasing and diving after a ball is akin to an elephant attempting to dance the salsa. They don't call him Jumbo for no reason.

In all seriousness, I honestly believe Kumble is a fantastic test match bowler. He has served his country well in the ODIs he has been asked to play, thus far. However, his use-by date expired long ago. He was put out to pasture in the ODI paddock, for a simple reason - he is a liability in the field, for he cannot run, dive or throw. Why embarrass him further in the ODI arena, when he could priming himself for some real cricket action - namely Test matches?

A similar deal with Wasim Jaffer. The guy builds fantastic innings at the top of the order in the longer version of the game. He did a magnificent job of anchoring the innings in our recent win in the West Indies, but this is ODI cricket. Team India requires fast, nimble and multi-dimensional players who can turn the game, more often than not, at the drop of a hat. Jaffer was hardly able to hit the ball off the square in the recently concluded Challenger Trophy. So, how did he qualify for ODI selection before a Rohit Sharma or Gautam Gambhir?

According to Dilip Vengsarkar, Jaffer's "technique is good for hard and bouncy wickets". The Indians showed they can bat 50 overs on a "hard and bouncy" wicket two days ago at Mohali. We do not need players who can block every ball back to the bowler, whilst displaying a back-foot defensive technique that would put the writers of the proverbial textbook to shame. We need players who will run hard and put the ball into gaps from the first ball. For a team that that pioneered the role of the big-hitting opener (Tendulkar in New Zealand, 1993/94 - not Jayasuriya as is commonly thought), it seems our selectors have lost their way, once again.

My man Sreesanth makes a welcome return through the front door, but I really would have preferred to see VRV Singh selected in place of Zaheer Khan. Our bowling attack lacked experience two days ago and there is no better opportunity to give some young guys the experience of playing good, tough cricket in unforgiving international conditions. Zaheer Khan could have waited his turn a little longer.

I cannot really complain about the batting line-up, for it picks itself. However, the selectors have illustrated their penchant for the bizzare by including Dinesh Karthik as a standby for Yuvraj Singh. Effectively, Karthik is now proficient enough with the bat to take Yuvraj's place. How?

Such is Indian cricket, the important questions will never be answered. I'm already getting that sickening sense of deja vu.

8 comments

Salil said...

Mohali was barely a hard and bouncy wicket against Australia. With the grass shaved off, there was little moisture at the top and only McGrath really got much nip from the surface. A far cry from what I saw in March/April in Kingsmead and Newlands.

I don't mind Jaffer and Kumble touring though for this series as part of a 16 man ODI squad. It's very unlikely that either man will play any ODIs as in SAF, Harbhajan will be the first choice spinner, and on slower surfaces, Mongia seems like the next most likely bet. Jaffer seems to be more of a backup than anything else - it's hard to see them not sticking with Sachin/Sehwag or Dravid at the top.

I get the feeling this is a means of acclimatising Jaffer and Kumble better, giving them more time in South Africa to prepare in nets and get used to the conditions, as they'll be among the most vital components of our test lineup. After all, with 16 men going in the squad, we can afford to do that.

The Enigma said...

I gave that angle some serious consideration and came to the conclusion that if it was the case, we would've known about it.

It's a good idea if indeed their tickets are to get them acclimatised. However, knowing how selection panels have behaved in the past, I get the feeling that these two are being sent as genuine contenders for an ODI spot.

You're right about Kingsmead in March/April. But, at this time of year those pitches are more like the current WACA - not their usual selves. :>

Anonymous said...

Kumble a liability on the field??
look at the indian team- they're all liabilities!!

The Enigma said...

I beg to differ. At least our middle order batsmen are reasonably good in the field, read Kaif, Yuvraj and Raina. Mongia is no slouch.

Our new generation of fast bowlers are agile and athletic with half-decent arms, if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

happy to see zaheer in the team. he is a good bowler who should never have been dropped.

X Factor said...

Kumble is well past his time in both ODI's. In test matches he is only effective on Indian pitches and is sure to get found out in South Africa where there will be hardly any turn in the pitches. The inclusion of Zaheer was a good one as he is a quality fast bowler and just needs some time in the set up to regain his best form. God knows what drugs the selectors were taking when they included Jaffer in the squad. He isnt exactly young, cant field anywhere but slips and has never been a consistent performer in One Dayers. What has Uthappa done wrong and Gambhir looks in great nick to me. Again the slectors might have been indulging in some heavy stuff when they picked Dinesh Karthik. What is he going to get out of it? Dhoni has been the best batsman in the team and is not likely to get dropped. They would have been better off trying another new face rather then reusing the same old scrap heap. Its about time that the selectors look to the future. This seems like a case of Back To The Future for me.

The Enigma said...

Kumble still manages to take more wickets on overseas tours than many of his younger teammates, in Tests anyway.

I am still not convinced about Zaheer. He's had many chances and disappointed with each and every one. We will have to wait and see if he really has turned the corner with respect to his attitude.

Jaffer and Karthik are further examples that the relative clarity in selection that we were treated to by More's panel, may well be a thing of the past. Lest we forget.

Anonymous said...

someone should drop chappel from the team

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