Why prolong the Mongia issue?

Published: Tuesday, December 21, 1999, 5:30 [IST]
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The "Nayan Mongia problem" is yet to be solved. An injury kept this senior wicket-keeper of India out of international cricket after the World Cup 1999. And it was MSK Prasad who replaced him and almost established his position in the national team.

Just a couple of days before the first test (Dec 10 to 14) in Adelaide, Prasad sustained a knee-injury and Mongia was flown to Australia. That has created an intriguing situation. Prasad recovered in time and played the Adelaide test. The presence of another wicket-keeper in this long strenuous tour was naturally considered as a blessing in disguise. But then, the team management claimed that it did not ask for Mongia. Its choice was Sameer Dighe, a young wicket-keeper batsman.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) explained that it came to know about the team management's choice only after Mongia had left for Australia. This notorious 'communication gap' is becoming a cruel joke in Indian cricket. Now, the question in Indian cricket circles is "will Mongia be sent back?" Till this day, no clear-cut decision has been taken in this regard. The team management has given us the assurance that a doctor's certificate confirming Prasad's fitness would be furnished to the BCCI. The BCCI at its meeting in Chennai on Dec 18-19 did not make the final decision on this matter.

Ardent cricket lovers must be wondering why Indian cricket has chosen to treat this vital slot so shabbily. These are days when the wicket-keeper's slot is being weighed with a lot of respect and a sense of imagination. Almost all other cricket-playing nations choose the best man for this job. Adam Gilchrist (Australia), Moin Khan (Pakistan), Mark Boucher (South Africa), Adam Parore (New Zealand), Ridley Jacobs (the West Indies) and Romesh Kaluwitharana (Sri Lanka) are the most popular wicket-keepers of the modern era.

While all the countries are adopting the wicket-keeper-cum-batsman concept with admirable understanding, India is making a mess of it. Take the case of Gilchrist. He was dubbed as an ODI specialist. It was Ian Healy who kept wickets for Australia in the test matches. Healy retired before the Australia-Pakistan Test Series mainly to widen Gilchrist's scope. And Gilchrist made the most of such a golden opportunity. In just four test matches Gilchrist has proved that he was the right man for the job.


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