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Dilip Vengsarkar Returns To The Bad Old Days

X had his say on the issue here, for the first time in his life his views were balanced and subdued. His replies to comments on this blog are a testament to his fiery nature.

Talking of fiery, I'm fired up. Dilip Vengsarkar and his new selection committee have taken Indian cricket back to the dark ages. Back to the day when selection for Team India was based on who you knew rather than merit. The days when selectorial whims were given higher priority than talent. The days when "for the good of Indian cricket" was just a pretty phrase that held no significance for the 5 wise men.

All the commendable weening performed by Kiran More and his gang, spurred in no small manner by Greg Chappell, has been wholly and drastically undone in the space of two selection committee meetings. More and co were eventually persuaded to take tough decisions for the benefit of Indian cricket. The twin goals of ridding the team of conflicting influences and under-performing stars and injecting fresh talent were successfully achieved.

Players like Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble were jettisoned from one or both teams (Test and ODI) for a multitude of reasons that included fitness issues, prolonged loss of form and attitude. The new talent that took their place was asked to exhibit the right attitude and a willingness to learn and develop their games. Along the way the new blood was also given the opportunity to display flashes of brilliance.

After achieving resounding success in their first season, man international cricketers have found the going a lot tougher in the subsequent period. Opposition teams work on the player's weaknesses and/or the player may also lose the touch that had initially befriended him.

Question being, after you have decided to bite the bullet and commit your resources to developing new talent, would not your investment in youth be better served by creating and testing a pool of new players, in the event that one or two of them lose form or are found to be unfit for international cricket? If a young player has lost form after an extended run, would it not make more sense to ask him to return to domestic cricket whilst replacing him with a another talented young gun who has been performing as well, if not better than the experienced players that were initially dropped?

Most people would answer with a resounding, YES!

What has Sourav Ganguly achieved in domestic cricket to warrant a recall to the national team? A solitary century at a strike rate of under 50, against an attack of Ashish Nehra, G Singh, J Sharma and and R Sharma does not maketh a champion again. Anybody who thinks that Ganguly is back in form is kidding themselves.

While Ganguly is pointing to a lone century, what magnificent feat has VVS Laxman performed over the last two months in domestic one day cricket to earn a recall to the ODI team? Absolutely nothing. When he was given a chance to prove his ODI credentials, his fitness (surprise, surprise) was found wanting. Surely, it would have made more sense to replace Rahul Dravid with any one of Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa or even Rohit Sharma. My exasperation at the selection of Kumble, Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik does not need to be repeated.

Furthermore, what was the rationale behind handing the vice-captaincy to Laxman? I have been opining for some time that Virender Sehwag (and Suresh Raina, for that matter) needs to play some domestic one-day cricket to find his touch again and work out exactly what works for him in the shorter version of the game. However, was it really necessary to strip him of the vice-captaincy just before he was required to lead his team on the field of play for the remainder of the ODI series. Was it necessary to give it to a man who is not guaranteed a place in either team? I think not.

A struggling team is not going to be helped by the presence of out-of-form players, no matter how experienced they may be. Experience has its place in sport, but, not if it is not supported by form.

The only clear signals emanating from the Vengsarkar selection committee is that if you engage in enough politicking through the media and can produce one significant performance in a whole year of domestic cricket, you will have done enough to qualify for selection to Team India. Hell, Laxman has proved that you do not even have to score meaningful runs to earn an esteemed leadership position with the team's management structure.

We all rejoiced when many of the old ills of Indian cricket ended with the inception of the John Wright era. We can all cringe now, for those very ills are well and truly back.

Thank you Dilip Vengsarkar, you are doing Indian cricket proud.



10 comments

Hiren said...

It seems more like panic to me. So close to the world cup, they are probably scared of trying anyone young and new.

Another thing about Ganguly that I don't understand-he has got a much better record in one day cricket as one of the few batsmen who have scored over 10,000 euns. Whenever he comes hack, he comes back to test cricket which is deemed tough
er anyway. Why is this so?

Last December, I had written a poem on his return. Lets hope he is able to make the most of it this time-http://hirenshah.wordpress.com/2005/12/24/poem-the-return-of-saurav-ganguly/

Anonymous said...

I have some extreme thoughts again. If the selection committee cant do its job properly, then at least the non performing players should withdraw themselves. At least they should have the moral and ethical responsibility to do so. This will not only prevent them from humiliation before national and international spectators, but will give the newer players an opportunity to show their talent and who probably dont have the resource to get selected even if they dont deserve. It is surprising that in a country of 1 billion people, there are no decent players who outstand.If they get selected and peform well initially, they become stars overnight and then their resolve, and concentration starts to falter.There are examples galore to substantiate this.India has produced a Gavasker and a Tendulker but that's about all that can be shown off.BCCI, being the richest Cricket board in the world, should have a hard look at itself and should be ashamed over the plight of Cricket in a nation where it is no less than a religion.XYZ

NiSh said...

talk about odd reasons with the world cup approaching..
this is an all new ball game now... dont know if it's been called for but it's on!

The Enigma said...

@ Hiren: I don't know if its panic or something else. I think politics has a bigger hand in this decision as opposed to any concerted effort to improve the team.

I agree. Being a Ganguly fan, I also hope he comes good. I have a stronger feeling that my hope might be in vain.

@ XYZ: We have selectors for a reason, to select the best team. It shouldn't be up to the players to drop themselves from the team. That would be a cop out.
Obviously the current lot of selectors have proven themselves to be inept and lacking resolve.

You're absolutely right about the BCCI. My initial faith in the new regime was seriously misplaced. They are a bunch of egotistical, self-serving buffoons who should be excused from their posts ASAP.

@ Nish: We shouldn't really be expecting a good performance at the WC. Not with those clowns pretending to be the selection panel. But, what's on?

X Factor said...

People People People. ALl the time I say that the Indian cricket fan has got the memory span of a fish, or there abouts and once agian I have been proven correct. It is to clos eot the world cup to start trialing new players, we have to work with the ones we have got and has everyone forgotten out how Idian feared before its last WC campaign? Let me remind you, they were destroyed by New Zealand on seaming bouncing tracks. Maybe this recent tour to South Africa could be a good omen. Look on the bright side of life fellas and take it easy a bit. If you liv eyur life the way you think about cricket then I am sure you will suffer from high blood pressure in the near future

The Enigma said...

X,
The crux of your argument is that we should be trialling new players to succeed at the WC. Exactly correct, IMHO.

What we shouldn't be doing is repackaging have-been stars and expecting them to do the job. If this practice continues, Team India are going to have an uphill battle at the WC.

Anonymous said...

Dear Enigma,
There are examples in the international Cricketing history, when non-performing players have at least volunteered to not play. The on which readily comes to mind is Mark Taylor when he was going through the form-slump as the Aussie Captain. There are some more which I cant really recall at the moment.
XYZ

The Enigma said...

XYZ,
Let me help you - Darren Lehman is another example of such a player, when Michael Clarke scored his maiden century.

However, I would still not like to see players dropping themselves as that would signal a defeatist attitude. I wouldn't like to see players simply giving up, rather than working on their games and trying to improve for the benefit of the whole team.

Anonymous said...

I think Damien Martyn should have learnt from Indian batsmen, before deciding to retire; just because he did not perform well in just two tests. There are Indian batsmen who fail series after series but they still dont decide to step down even temporarily.XYZ

The Enigma said...

XYZ,
You fail to understand the immense difference between stepping down temporarily and quitting for good.

Stepping down shows a lack of will and a defeatist attitude. Martyn retired because he didn't want to hack it any longer.

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