Indian selection: One step forward, two steps backward

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2005, 17:42 [IST]
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'Change is the instrument of progress' is an adage that the Board of Control for Cricket in India doesn't pay heeds to. A glance at the national squad announced for the first Test in Mohali is a pointer in this case.

The five wise men in whose hand lie the destiny of many a budding cricketers have opted to play it safe while announcing the squad. It looks as though sentiments have held its sway over performance. A stark contrast to the Australian way where the likes of Bevan and Bichel were shown the door, despite they having the fire in their bellies to win many more battles. Everyone knows where Australia stands today and where India stands. To climb that one step further you need to take risks, which, unfortunately, Indian selectors are quite apprehensive of.

It's not that whatever Australian selectors do is right. Recently, a former cricketer, Mark Waugh, ( who himself was only one of the 'special' beneficiaries along with Doug Walters) took a dig at the Australian selectors by alleging that they are were partial to players from Queensland.

However, Australian selectors have been pretty good in rewarding performance and they pay scant regard to sentiments. Or else, how could one see the sight of a player like Michael Slater being made to sit out, despite the oodles of talent that he possessed. Even Steve Waugh was made to bid a hasty retreat following pressure from selectors. Their 'condemned-by-all-yet-popular' rotation policy has reaped rich dividends.

Just compare the situation with that of Kapil Dev, who was allowed to continue long after his prime age, just to have a go at a personal milestone. A few among the present seem to follow the suit. Despite being past their prime and not in the best of their fitness, they have been able to hold their place in the side due to the 'sentiments' factor. Agreed, that the team is going to play against its archrivals. But that doesn't mean that one can choose players based on their past laurels. Perform or perish should be the ideal yardstick.

The selectors have taken cover under the fact that youngsters have been given an opportunity to prove their mettle in the Board President's eleven team. But, does Satyajith Parab who is 30 deserve the tag of a youngster? And why has the tried, tested and failed Parthiv Patel been given another chance when the likes of Dhoni are looking for a stage to showcase his talent?

Selectors have taken undue advantage of the 'form is temporary, class is permanent' adage. For that to happen, class should be permanent; As one could see, horses for courses policy is not a bad idea. One marathon performance must not be taken as a guarantee for one's place in the team for lifetime. Gone are the days when you could sit on past laurels. Instead of waiting for things to happen, the selectors should make things happen. Past is past.

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