Saturday, October 27, 2018

#DhoniDropped & the thankless job

MS Dhoni has been officially dropped from the Indian T20 team. For the first time ever, since his debut, Dhoni misses out on an international game because of being dropped, not rested, not injured, or in case of the longest format, simply retired. He has been dropped. Well, it was coming. A good IPL 2018 season could not cover the fact that Dhoni's power game was on the wane. He is still one of the best wicket-keepers around, but the batting has definitely been on the slide. So what next for Dhoni? No ODIs for quite some time now, and no limited overs domestic matches either. He doesn't play first-class cricket any longer. So turning up for Jharkhand in the Ranji Trophy is also ruled out. So can he play in Big Bash or other T20 leagues for game time? Will BCCI permit such a thing?

There will be hue and cry on the social media on this drastic step from the selectors. To be honest, when hasn't there been a hue and cry for selections? Being a selector is the most thankless job in the world. After all, in public opinion, the players not selected are often the best in the world. However, being an Indian selector must be an even more thankless job. We have the widest pool of players to choose from (37 first-class teams!). Then our teams are most in demand across the world. We move from one tour to another. And its not just the national team, even the A squad seems to be constant tour. And sometimes there is the Board's president XI or the B team also in action somewhere maybe in a different format! Right now we have India playing the West Indies in ODIs while Deodhar trophy is also underway. That's 4 Indian teams in action simultaneously!

Selectors have simultaneously picked up squads for T20 Internationals at home against West Indies, a T20 series away in Australia, Test series in Australia and "A" Tests against New Zealand! No wonder it is a full-time paid job now. But as usual selections have raised more than a fair share of questions.

How did we pick squads for Australian T20s when we still have West Indies T20 games pending? Given that for home ODIs, teams were first picked for 2 games and then the remaining three? 

Kedar Jadhav does a press conference to announce his fitness and cites lack of communication with the chief of selectors. He has played a Deodhar Trophy match to prove his fitness also. Next day he is added for the remaining matches as well!

Coming to the Test squad now, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma & Parthiv Patel are back. Mayank Agarwal is dropped. Meanwhile Karun Nair is deported to the India A squad. The chief reason cited has been that players with past experience in Aussie conditions have been picked. Lets take it case by case
  • Vijay after being dropped opted to play for Essex in County cricket, and put together a string of good scores . So has got the runs. But is he now the lead opener or back-up to Rahul & Shaw?
  • Rohit Sharma is an ODI legend and a Test misfit. Should have been an automatic choice for the longer formats, but just hasn't got the runs in Tests to justify selection. And hasn't played any first-class cricket either.
  • Parthiv Patel is the back-up keeper. He was also the back-up keeper back in 2002, when an injury to Ajay Ratra got him his debut. He has kept in Australia and sledged Steve Waugh! SO has the experience. Can open also. But it is an intriguing selection
  • Mayank Agarwal forced his way after an almost 3,000 run domestic season. He still hasn't stopped scoring. But now finds himself out of favour without getting even a chance to fail?
  • Karun Nair's case gets curiouser and curiouser. He is dropped after being on the becnh for long time. Now is also not in the squad for the first India A Test against the Kiwis. Although he leads the team for the last two A Tests?  
And how do you prepare for Australia by playing a single 4-day game in New Zealand?

And that is why being a selector is the ultimate thankless job!

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