Bangalore, Jul 6: Since the departure of Kapil Dev, India's quest for a genuine all-rounder has still been a dream. Year after year, series after series, Indian cricket's search for an all-rounder has resulted in disappointments.
Ravindra Jadeja is the latest member in Indian cricket's "tried and failed" list of all-rounders. He was dumped from the national team for Sri Lanka tour on Wednesday.
The 15-man squad to Sri Lanka, does not have an all-rounder. Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan, both have had enough chances to prove their credentials with both bat and ball. But, the tag of an all-rounder doesn't seem to sit with ease on both. They excel in one of the two departments. Rarely have they combined both skills to come on top.
Yusuf's brother Irfan Pathan too was looked as filling into the big shoes of all-rounder. But Irfan lost his bowling form and was subsequently discarded. Recently, he made a come back but is now again sidelined.
One of the main reasons attributed to India's 1983 World Cup success, is the contribution of all-rounders. The side had all-rounders who delivered on the big stage.
India might have won the World Cup again after 28 years, but still lack an all-rounder.
The all-rounder riddle has not been able to be solved by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). May be it is time now for BCCI to seriously groom all-rounders.
Players like Jadeja has had plenty of opportunities to make a mark. But he has not been able to translate his potential at the domestic level to international.
Ajit Agarkar was one of the many firsts regarded as a possible successor to that spot. He made his India debut in 1998. But after nine years at the international stage, he only managed to show that he is a good ODI bowler. There were glimpses of his batting skills, like at Lord's where he struck a Test century.
One can think of many players who promised but succumbed to pressure. Apart from Agarkar, JP Yadav, Sunil Joshi, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Sanjay Bangar, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Ajay Jadeja, Joginder Sharma are some of the names who were bracketed as all-rounders in the ODI arena.
After Kapil, last one to hold much promise and deliver was Manoj Prabhakar. He used open both batting and bowling, one of the rare happenings on a cricket field.
Whether Jadeja, Yusuf and Irfan return for India duty and continue to try and fill those roles remains to be seen. Or BCCI and its selection panel needs to seriously address the issue at the earliest.
An eye on next month's Under-19 World Cup could throw up some name. BCCI needs to identify potential all-rounders and aim to groom one for the next World Cup in Australia in 2015.
It is also important to focus on the ICC World Twenty20 2012 in Sri Lanka in September this year. India cannot afford to go into the tournament without all-rounders.
Till we find one, Team India will have to rely on sheer batting prowess to win them silverware in the shorter formats.