Overvaluing the need for specialist openers
Questions are being asked in several quarters about whether Dravid opening at Lahore
in spite of the apparent fact that Ganguly
had been picked as opener
was necessarily a good thing.
A lot of people talk about the opening slot being a specialist one. Balderdash, is what I'd say to that. Sehwag wasn't a specialist opener. Several other prominent openers in test cricket history didn't start off as openers. Names like Sidhu, Simpson, Gooch, Langer, Mushtaq Ali, Merchant, Jayasuriya, Trumper, Close, Atapattu, Mahanama, Vaughan, Majid Khan, Rameez Raja come to mind. I'm fairly sure I've missed out several others as well.
On the other hand, Boon started off as an opener and when Taylor came into the side, became a superb #3. Mark Richardson started off as a bowler and ended up as one of New Zealand's most successful openers.
So why bother about who opens, as long as they do a good job? Mind you, I'm not implying that I think Dravid should open. I still believe he should bat at #3
But I can't accept the notion that you need specialist openers, those who've opened all their life. How unlikely is it that Gambhir or Jaffer got thrust into the opening slot in an under-14 game when they were to actually bat at #3 or #4? This would very likely have happened when the chap who was supposed to open had a sudden stomach ache when he saw the opposition bowler run in to bowl off a 30 yard run-up. Ultimately it is what you make of your resources that matters. If the only way you get into a test side is as an opener, if the team thinks you have what it takes and if you definitely want to play test cricket, then swallow your pride and go and open the innings.