Wanted for Indian cricket: Consistency of selection and a ban on tournaments played in islands
There are far too many reasons floating around for India's exit at the Super Eight stage of the T20 World Cup. No one even mentioned those (IPL, post-match parties, inability to play on bouncy tracks, poor squad selection, etc.) when India beat Afghanistan and South Africa.
By no stretch of imagination were the pitches at Barbados (where India lost to West Indies & Australia) bouncy pitches! They were good all-round wickets. India lost because its batsmen couldn't cope with anything above knee height, because its bowlers had zero ability to pick up wickets and because the fielding was a total joke.
It is a different matter though that the batsmen also struggle when the ball is 'slow and low'. So they can't play anything below ankle height and anything above knee height. Steve Waugh would call that a very huge comfort zone
As in the 2009 edition
, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, bizarrely chose to come in at #5 or #6 although he was in form and among the better batsmen around. Why he continued to persist with promoting an out-of-form and clearly unfit Yuvraj ahead of him was totally beyond comprehension.
The bigger issue though is the total lack of clarity and consistency around selection.
India's selectors keep picking squads for T20 that comprise of largely the same folks who play 50-over ODIs. Given the compressed nature of the T20 game, there is always a huge emphasis on cricketers with at least 2 skills - explosive batting, brilliant fielding and run-choking / wicket-taking bowling. Persisting with chaps like Nehra
, Zaheer, Yuvraj (when he is unfit), Harbhajan and Praveen Kumar
was really ridiculous.
India's successes in 1983, 1985 (ok, not exactly an ICC event!), 2002 and 2007, and the route to the finals in 2000 & 2003, had significant contributions from the fielding department.
The BCCI had over a year to identify specific players who needed help with playing "bouncy" stuff. When we say 'bouncy' stuff, do remember that it is not even getting close to "chin music"
The BCCI had at least 4 years
to figure out how the tracks in the Caribbean would have played. Was it not important enough? Did it assume that the tracks would be the same as those during the 2007 World Cup
or the 4 ODIs in 2009
Considering that India hadn't played a single game at Barbados over the last 4 years
, was it really a surprise that the team was unprepared for the conditions?
Since Jan 2009, 29 players have been selected in India's ODI and T20 squads. That doesn't sound like a huge number, and it may seem like there actually is consistency of selection. But try explaining to the likes of Abhimanyu Mithun, Ashok Dinda, Amit Mishra, Badrinath, Abhishek Nayar, Pragyan Ojha, Ashwin, Virat Kohli, etc. that they have been treated fairly. Notice that with the exception of Kohli, Badri and Nayar, the rest are all bowlers.
This tells us that the 'senior' batsmen in the team are unlikely to get dislodged and any potential claimant to the spot must score a 250 in a 50-over innings or 150 in a 20-over innings to be considered.
Was there clarity around who plays what sort of role? Were Gambhir and Raina expected to bat through the innings? What was the expectation from Yuvraj and Rohit? What was Dhoni's role? If Vijay or Dinesh Karthik got picked, what were they supposed to do? Was Yusuf Pathan only supposed to try to hit every ball for 6 or 4?
Maybe its time for a thorough clean-up. Maybe the players who were picked for the T20 World Cup didn't have the hunger since they'd had it easy. Maybe its time to pick those who do have the hunger.
Forcing the games to be played during day-time hours in the West Indies just to cater to the Indian TV audience turned out to be so farcical after the team's pathetic showing.
The next time around, if the partners & sponsors tried to negotiate telecast timings, the ICC should ask them to take a look at India's recent record
before assuming that India would even get to the semi-finals.
More importantly and more pertinently though, the BCCI must put its foot down and insist that ICC tournaments must no longer be held in islands, based on India's past record (Australia-New Zealand: 1992; England: 1975, 1979, 1983, 1998 & 2004; Sri Lanka: 2002 and West Indies: 2007). Of the 7 tournaments, India have been finalists on just 2 occasions and the rest were all major flop shows.
Labels: india, indian premier league, ipl 2010, selection, twenty20, twenty20 world cup