Be bold, be practical, do the right thing

tendulkar-bowled

Sachin Tendulkar must be dropped from the Test team. Let us reiterate that without any ambiguity. The selectors – who are paid Rs 60 lakhs per year – must drop Tendulkar.

Whether Tendulkar retires or not, whether he is given a fitting farewell or not, whether he leaves the game in a dignified manner or not is irrelevant to this discussion. What is germane is that Tendulkar – with two half-centuries and ten sub-twenty scores in 2012 – must be axed from the Test side.

Virender Sehwag must be dropped. Gautam Gambhir must be dropped. MS Dhoni has overshot his shelf life as captain. Duncan Fletcher is our least successful coach. However these need not distract us from the topic on hand.

Tendulkar has struggled against pace, medium-pace and spin. He has been bowled multiple times. He has also been caught by the keeper, caught at slip and fallen leg before. He has consistently missed the line of the ball, has been beaten in flight and misread the bounce. His reflexes have slowed, of that there is no doubt.

The team management have had enough time to experiment with Tendulkar’s batting position. They have shown no imagination. Or maybe they tried and were rebuffed. There was a case to try Tendulkar at No.5 or No.6, a chance for an experienced batsman to guide the lower order, a role that Laxman played in the latter half of his career. But the time for such experiments have passed.

The team management, the selectors and the BCCI have also had enough time (over the last year and a half) to speak to Tendulkar, communicate their thoughts for grooming a replacement and plan for a seamless transition. There is no evidence that any of this has happened. If there was indeed a plan, it has obviously not worked.

Are we dead certain that Tendulkar will not rediscover his touch? No, we can never be. But that is not the point. A batsman of that caliber is no doubt capable of a half-century every ten innings and sometimes, if the opposition is relatively weak, more often. Pick Dravid and he will do the same. Pick Laxman and he will do the same. Pick Ganguly and he will do the same. To take respite in an edgy 76 once in a while is to clutch at straws.

The last time a Tendulkar innings changed the course of a match was back in November 2011 against West Indies in Mumbai. The last time a Tendulkar innings threatened to do so was in December 2011 in Melbourne. Since then almost every Tendulkar innings has been a bogged-down effort, adding to the pressure on the current batsman and offering the initiative back to the opposition. While Tendulkar’s struggle is humbling to the eye of the spectator it is also gratifying to the opposition and debilitating to his own team.

Consider Nagpur. England had scored 330 in the first innings. India were 59 for 1 with Gambhir and Pujara mixing caution and aggression. The surface was slow and the two batsmen had been patient enough to build a valuable partnership. That’s when Pujara fell to a dubious decision. In walked Tendulkar and, during the course of his excruciating twenty five minutes, handed England the advantage. He took nine balls to get off the mark, played and missed consistently and lived on the edge throughout his stay. The pressure built, Gambhir lost his earlier fluency, Tendulkar was out bowled, and, soon enough, Gambhir edged to the keeper.

This was not a one-off instance. Over the last year Tendulkar has been part of similar phases where his uncertainty has led to the team being pushed into a shell. Tendulkar’s batting form is not about Tendulkar alone; it plays a big part in his partner’s approach and the team’s progression, it has a lot to do with the confidence of the opposition, and it no doubt has a huge effect on the batsmen to follow.

Who will replace Tendulkar? Is there anybody ready to bat at No.4? Yes. Virat Kohli has shown – with innings in Perth, Adelaide and Nagpur – that he has the temperament. As a one-day player he is a phenomenon. In any other era, he would have been celebrated as a national treasure. Now is the time to give him some responsibility. First he needs to carry the batting line-up from No.4, next he needs to lead the side. His time is now. The more one delays the more one fails to exploit his talents in his prime.

What is the guarantee that the selectors’ decision to drop Tendulkar – if they indeed take it – will be backed by the BCCI? There is none. Mohinder Amarnath’s revelation – about the BCCI shooting down a unanimous vote to axe Dhoni as captain – has shown that the BCCI has no need for selectors anymore. They are being paid to be good puppets. But that doesn’t excuse Amarnath for toeing the line and letting the cat out many months later. It also doesn’t excuse the current bunch from taking the right decision.

There is plenty of sentimentality going around. And sport offers us that luxury. Tendulkar is no doubt among the rarest of the rare species in sport – a sociological phenomenon and a cultural icon. He is the greatest run-machine since Bradman, the most complete batsman of his – or some might even argue, any – era. He defines an age. The history of cricket will be incomplete without a chapter on Tendulkar. We could say the same about the history of modern India. Tendulkar’s influence transcends his sport. He is larger than life. Some will even argue – without a trace of jest – that he is the reason for living.

But all this is also besides the point. Correct decisions are almost never based on sentimentality. Had Naren Tamhane and his band of selectors turned to emotion, they would have never picked a 16-year old to take on the ferocity of Wasim Akram, Imran Khan and Waqar Younis in a series in Pakistan in 1989. They would have thought he was too tender, too fragile. They didn’t fall into that trap. They chose to be bold.

We were thankful that practicality trumped emotion then. We will be thankful if it does the same now.

This piece first appeared in Yahoo! Cricket

Related: Tendulkar and the retirement question , Two views on Tendulkar, Tendulkar: genius captured in 19 seconds, Tendulkar and the clutch question

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27 Responses to Be bold, be practical, do the right thing

  1. Robin says:

    Must have been difficult to write this. I think nothing is more captivating in sport than to watch an ageing champion battle slowing reflexes while trying to produce the results of old. At the same time nothing is more excruciating than to watch the same champion stay around long enough that people forget how good he actually was in his pomp.
    I was always a bigger fan of Punter and to my own amazement his retirement came as a relief more than anything else.
    Obviously with SRT the emotional stakes are a lot higher and people are going to react differently but one would expect the selectors to be immune to all this.
    Personally I think the decision is still his but if the next few months go the same way as the last few have then the selectors must step in and do their job.

  2. Madhusudhan says:

    Great one Sid. I believe simply based on form, one must be picked/dropped. Age and past records should be secondary. In case of Lara, he had his best years after 2000 but chose to go while in pretty good form and Ponting left when he realised it wasn’t going to get much better. If Tendulkar leaves without a further dip, it will remind us of his glorious dominant 90s else the image will be that of the last two years when we witnessed a struggling great well past his prime..

  3. godof86 says:

    Yes. Thanks for saying this. Yes, definitely. Take emotions away from this specific issue, and it is a complete no-brainer. Sachin has not played well for more than a year now. Sachin should be benched. Seems logical.

    However, I probably do not take the game too seriously …. no that is wrong, I do not take the performance of the Indian cricket team very seriously. I could not care less if India wins or loses, the board is corrupt, or any such stuff anymore. And to me , Sachin 2012-13 is absolutely fascinating. A past master, powers waned (not ‘on-the-wane’ anymore, seriously), reputation sullied, respect lost *** …… seemingly being incapable of doing what his heart and mind must be telling him to… and taking himself through this ordeal instead. This is not even cricket, this is a (masterpiece of) human drama.

    That? Or a standardfare Ajinkya Rahane 45 (97, 4X4)? C’mon now!

    *** Yes, respect lost. 5 years ago, could you have imagined Sachin doing a Kapil, in all Boost is the secret of my energy seriousness? But he did, and he is. So in retrospect, Kapil lost quite a bit of his aura for his neverending farewell, and Sachin is losing some of his. And let’s not fool ourselves, Kapil was as big an icon as Sachin is. Our generation just has a bigger mouthpiece (the internet) and a larger voice, that’s all.

  4. sandeep says:

    Sorry sid. I respect your right to have an opinion , but i have lost some respect for ur analytical skills.U r putting too much blame on one man and some of it seems to be a product of an overheated imagintion rather than any reasoned analysis. U say he struggled in the england tests, fine. There u r absolutely right. But then u say he has been out bowled, caught, edged etc. Thats how batsmen get out. There r hardly other ways to get out.As for being being beaten in flight etc , it has happened to every other batsman also. The points abt his innings bringing the entire team down, esp from melbourne onwards seem melodramatic and not borne by fact. Virat and Dhoni scored at 2 per over in nagpur for 90 overs, cuz of sachin, thats what u mean? Sorry , doesnt make any sense to me. I have been following ur blog since a few months and now it seems to me that ur solution to every problem is dropping everybody in sight, esp seniors, without giving much thought to who are the replacements, and then blaming the replacements for not showing any Fight. i know u r hurting but this was a very harsh and a negative article and did not do ur writing any favours. I always thought u had a way of writing which put its point of view across without being too rough, but this was no different from hundreds of other bloodthirsty blogs written everyday by arm chair critics all over the country .

    • Sarath Chandra says:

      I think you are absolutely right. The writer urges the selectors not to be sentimental, but that is exactly what he is being.

    • sidvee says:

      I respect your opinion on SRT. When I said he was out bowled, caught etc I didn’t think I needed to get into the stats (since that seems to be well known). Check how many times he has been bowled over the last year and compare it with the others. Also check how many times he has missed the line of the ball and compare it with the way someone like Kohli has got out. I didn’t think I would have to justify why his reflexes have slowed. Also it’s not about the run-rate Virat and Dhoni scored at. It’s about the comfort levels of the batsmen before and after SRT is in. Again, this is a debatable point and I see your argument. I am not saying drop everyone in sight. Teams all over drop under-performing players, get them to play domestic cricket and then pick them on form. This is not rocket science. The fact that someone like Sachin is considered above such considerations clearly shows that he is being put above the interests of the team. My view and my view alone.

      • sandeep says:

        Sid, i know you love SRT as much as i do.I also know you are hurting from the defeats and are searching for answers as much as i am. But that article you have written left a bad taste in my mouth. Sport , without sentimentality, becomes a business. Without sentiment, how can one take a sport seriously? And as someone mentioned above, SRT right now embodies a fascinating struggle of a man who is fighting one last desperate battle against himself, father time and the opposition bowlers ,all at the same time. This is rivetting theatre, not unalike what federer is going through right now.
        You talk of his dying reflexes. This reminds me of Sachin in 2007 when all the same arguments were used against him. I think at the highest level, what affects one’s reflexes, esp one blessed with sachin’s talent, is muddled thinking. Gary kirsten has said that what sachin needed more than anything (when he was the coach) was encouragement, a comfortable atmosphere and a feeling of being wanted .If his mind is clear of unwanted distractions he will function at his best , or somewhere close to it ,as that will give him the extra split second required to react to the ball. Articles like urs do not help, neither the man nor the team.His reflexes seemed ok to me in australia and even in the asia cup, esp against Pak, where his 50 was one one of the better 50′ one would see. He whipped a ball short of length from a seamer, from outside the off stump through midwicket for a boundary. That wouldnt have been possible with waning reflexes. Whatever his form, Australia will rather prefer facing a team without him rather than with him.
        And regarding Naren tamhane’s decision to give SRT his debut, selecting a 16 year old to face the fastest bowlers in the world in his debut series, that too from a team which are your arch rivals, is not a practical decision. Brave yes. Bold, yes. Foolhardy, absolutely. Practical, NO ! That sachin succeded was entirely due to his maturity and skill and not due to any selectorial genius. SRT will go, just give him a little more time and keep a little faith. The team needs him now,more than ever. All through his career,He has managed to surprise us, even when we thought we could not be surprised any more.He has featured in most our memorable moments over the last 20 years. Just give him one more chance to try to add one more to it. I know deep down ,thats what u want too !

      • jayant says:

        I really dont understand why you are blaming only sachin….if we go by the recent performances,then the whole team needs to be replaced..not only sachin.If you go by the stats,then he is still performing well as compared to his mates.
        As of now indian team needs sachin tendulkar badly in tests….

      • Deepan Joshi says:

        No player needs to retire necessarily, but any player can be dropped. And it might actually do a player some good because if he has it in him then he’ll attempt a comeback. And you get the comebacks in Tests right when you return with your basics sorted and sharpened out. Ganguly got his basics right and went on to play some of his bests innings after the comeback. Tendulkar has every right to believe that he has it in him, that’s half of his job actually, but if it is not translating into runs that matter then there’s really no shame in being dropped even if you are a Tendulkar.

      • Deepan Joshi says:

        Sid, just think about why on Earth Tendulkar would have opted out of the Windies Test tour because your memory serves you right there was no apparent reason for him to skip the tour. The only thing I can think of, if I were to slip into his shoes, was his peerless form from 26 December 2007 to the World Cup. Apart from the Mendis series in Sri Lanka and a one-off Test against South Africa, Tendulkar peeled hundreds at will home and away. The NZ home series was also not fruitful. Apart from that two in Australia, two in South Africa, a big one in New Zealand where he got great starts in three other innings and could actually have got four hundreds; his 49 and two sixties were flawless before he got out. At home back-to-back hundreds against South Africa, one against England, then against Australia in two home series’ of four and two Tests, including a double, a hundred, and a 98 and an 80. The double against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. Awesome form in ODIs. Tendulkar had every reason to think that he would get the 100th in the next series and he may have wanted to do it in England against a quality attack (His average in England has come down only after the last effort else he was in sixties there). His 32 in Lord’s tells you that despite flu he was in top form. That full ball marginally outside off and moving just a shade was a beauty from Broad. No matter how much I admire Tendulkar; I would have felt bad for Broad had he not got a wicket off that brilliant delivery. The decline started there and TV from then on flashed Tendulkar misses a hundred again even if he fell in single digits. It was lunacy in India. From that high it came down to his getting that 100 in Bangladesh in an ODI. The noise we made was a bit too much and yes it distracted him and more importantly the team. Even Hayden came out to say that the world would be a better place once he gets that hundred. It was striking that from Everest he dropped straight to sea level as if there wasn’t anything in between. I agree with you in the sense that he has to fight for his place because we can’t play with 10 men on the field. It’s a very tricky situation with him right now because we have Australia and then South Africa away. If the chapter has to close then it has to close now as you don’t want to blood someone straight in SA. So if he plays Australia then he goes on the flight to SA as an experienced hand and crosses 200 Tests and retires. But he has to perform against the Aussies for that else he should be stranded the way he was in Multan. I enjoyed all your pieces, the Mirror one and the Cricinfo one along with the ones here. The ones on the blog are more enjoyable as they open the issue for the floor. Cheers

    • Sankalp says:

      I agree with Sandeep!!!

      • Deepan Joshi says:

        I also agree with Sandeep. We blasted Tendulkar out of form after the World Cup. There was such errant nonsense about his hundredth hundred and its the first time I’ve found someone who agrees with what I have maintained in my pieces that picking Tendulkar as 16 was a decision lacking cricketing nous. Had he began at 18 with his body formed, he would not have lost four or five of his peak years to freak injuries. A batsman batting in Tests at 40 is heard of. Sir WG turned all his youth back at 47 but 16 stands out. No one who has achieved long-term success has made his debut before 20 apart from Sobers at 18.

      • sidvee says:

        Thanks for the comment, Deepan. Two things – Tendulkar himself opted out of the Windies tour (for personal reasons). Now, if memory serves me right, this is the first time in his whole career that he was missing a series for reasons other than injuries and recovery. Nobody would have stopped him had he gone on the tour and played the ODIs. He could have easily got some form then, something that could helped him in England. Gavaskar too had criticised him for this.

        Secondly: Maybe picking him at 16 was a decision from left field but again one must remember that it took him four-five years before he got his first hundred. Now sure he was batting at No.4 and No.5 (and sometimes even at 6 and 7) but 4-5 years is a long time in international cricket. So had we picked him later, he might have either adapted sooner or (god forbid) may have not been given such a long rope. So I think picking him when they did worked out in the end.

  5. Sirjee says:

    @ Sandeep : I agree with you. I was also initially drawn towards Sid thinking him to be different from other critics all over the media who just check Sachin’s score when India loses and co-relate the two together.

    Sadly, Sid isn’t doing much different either. I don’t wish to say that SRT isn’t doing badly or shouldn’t contemplate retirement, but to pin loss on one man alone is un-called for.

    SRT has retired from ODI’s today and people will not only find out that SRT isn’t the only problem, but a “target” for future and quite foreseeable failures in coming series.

    Goodluck!

  6. Sarath Chandra says:

    “Sachin Tendulkar must be dropped from the Test team.” If this is your opinion, fair enough. But then you go on to add ” Let us reiterate that without any ambiguity. The selectors – who are paid Rs 60 lakhs per year – must drop Tendulkar.” Surely not.

    You mentioned Nov11 and Dec11. That was only an year go. He was the second highest run getter in England and Australia. Should he have been dropped then? He didn’t do well against NZ, was it the right time? How about after England? What i am trying to get at is its surely not an open and shut case. Are 2 disastrous series all that is allowed to a 22 yr veteran? Perhaps yes, but also perhaps not. My personal opinion is that the Australia series should be his last chance.

    As Sandeep has rightly pointed out, how else does a batsmen get dismissed? Anyone else other than Sachin, we wouldn’t even have noticed these things.

    As for the man himself, i am confident his goals are the upcoming away series against SA and Eng. The reason he didn’t retire after the W.C was because for him, it was another thing to achieved but not the last thing. Anybody who sees Sachin field will not question his commitment and hunger. Despite being the senior player, he fields at Third-Man and gives his 100%. What remains in doubt is his ability. I guess if the Aus series doesn’t go his way, he will call it a day. Whatever the future holds, there is no dis-honor in fighting on. Ponting fought to the end, sachin is doing the same. They are not taking the easy route out.

  7. Sarath Chandra says:

    “Correct decisions are almost never based on sentimentality.” I wonder how true this is.

  8. Yogesh says:

    this is non sense article. Author has got a chance because of his lean form to pen down his hatred against the maestro. I’m sure it will not affect Sachin as a famous saying in Hindi quotes ” Hati chalate rahate hain aur kutte bhokate rehte hai!

  9. tarunvignesh says:

    @Sidvee I think your post reads more like a rant which is bound to stir up a debate :)
    Having said that I have to agree with you- and with a heavy heart. For those of you who believe Sachin has not lost his reflexes- please do take some time in watching the recently concluded India-Eng series. It is not just about the way he got out- it is about how he spent his time in the middle. His scratchiness not only stalled momentum but also permeated through to his colleagues- something that was well exploited by England. And we all know Sachin has played much better in pressure cooker situations before.

    Sachin should have retired from ODIs after the WC win- so that he could give his best in tests for the Eng/Aus series and mentor the younger batsmen. It really should not have come down to this. It is an example of a larger malaise that plagues decision making in Indian cricket.

  10. Ravindra says:

    Hmm. Whereas I may agree with your sentiment, I do not agree with the substance and the urgency of the same. Look at more pressing issues for the team failure and please do not sidestep them just by saying they are not “topics on hand”.

    “Virender Sehwag must be dropped. Gautam Gambhir must be dropped. Duncan Fletcher is our least successful coach. ” (I disagree with your Dhoni comment, just for the plain reason of TINA factor at this time).

    If you decide to write one article each on your above mentioned statements, you would realize that there are more arguments to take these steps immediately than dropping Sachin. If you read/listen to kind of things Viru and Gambhir are uttering in the press with no performance to back up on the field (maybe expect in IPL?) and our coach (what is that he is doing exactly?), IMHO they are the more fit cases than Sachin.

    So, waiting for you making the above statements as “topics on hand”, the next time.

  11. Gaurav says:

    As much i like your blog, this may be the first time i would want to disagree with you. I have always believed that there should be a process in phasing out senior players which obviously our selectors didnt due to there short term thinking. I would have loved to see VVS, Rahul and SRT retiring with atleast 2 big series gap. Now with Rahul and VVS have gone this team needs SRT more than ever. He may be passing through his worst slump yet and yes this might deteriorate his batting average and image as an all time great but it will surely benefit players like Pujara Rahane kohli who are the future of our cricket team.
    Most of us who want him to retire are the emotional fans who dont want to see their idol suffer this badly. Kudos to SRT to not bowing against such emotional public sentiments and keeping team interest alive. I think at this stage it would be very easy for him to leave by announcing his last match, he is taking difficult path and in my mind right one.
    Indian team is passing through a nightmare but he is not the reason of this and removing him isnt the solution. It will make things even worse. (Not a good writer so there may be several grammatical mistakes, please ignore them :))

  12. Vistasp Hodiwala says:

    Did you pen this piece yourself? Or has it been ghost-written? If this wasn’t on your blog, I would have never guessed. :) The tone is well… different, the stand is unequivocal, the verdict, unambiguous. Don’t get me wrong. I love what you have to say and mostly how you put it across on most matters; but on this issue, well, I have had my doubts because of the soft-pedalling I have felt from you for long. In the closing stages of a brilliant innings, Sachin has inflicted upon himself exactly what Kapil did. While I still squarely blame the selectors for this, he should have known better. It’s been painful to watch. Very, whether you are a Sachin fan or just an ardent follower of the sport.

  13. Sankara Raman says:

    Sid, the point you have tried to convey is the job that selectors have to do – that this should be based purely on form and performance. I find it ridiculous when someone says Dhoni should be retained because of the TINA factor. At the moment, Kohli seems to be the man of the moment – to be entrusted the leadership role. Even if he fails, it cannot be worse that what it is now. Had Sehwag or Gambhir shown a semblance of balance in their utterances – to have performances back those even a wee bit – they could have taken over.

    I firmly believe that Wridhiman Saha is a much better keeper and a more skilled batsman (remember the innings he played in Australia when Dhoni had to sit out). On form the selectors job is quite simple actually – drop Sehwag, Gambhir, Sachin, Dhoni and Ishant (for god’s sake why is he still in the team!?). There could be Pujaras waiting in the wings (in terms of taking the opportunity coming their way) – Rahane, Manoj Tiwary etc. For ex, watching yesterday’s T20 match made me wonder as to why we do not have a ‘horses for courses’ policy in selection – Bhuvanesh Kumar might have swung the ball much better in England than the overweight/unfit R P Singh – definitely!

    About Sachin, let us accept the fact that some greats do not know as to how to time their retirement. We said the same when Dravid missed the line of the multiple on so many occasions in Australia – he seemed to agree and went out. So, it is not about anyone nitpicking on Sachin. Ponting went out accepting that things are not going to get any better for him and the team. If Sachin feels he still has it in him, let him play Ranji and convince the selectors to recall him – this is what Zaheer, Sreesanth, etc are beginning to do – else the best performing domestic cricketers at that point should make the Australia series. And when it comes to the SA tour, pick players based on their skill/ability on bouncy pitches, backfoot play etc than past peformances (remember how Akash Chopra and Sanjay Bangar played vital roles in our test wins in Australia and England respectively!?)

    • sandeep says:

      Umm,how do u judge their skill/ability on bouncy pitches,backfoot play other than by their past performances?

      • sidvee says:

        Yes this is the point I am making, Sankara. The crux of the argument seems to be this: those wanting Sachin in the team are going by the reasoning that he can dip into his vast experience to keep the middle-order steady as Pujara, Kohli etc reach a certain threshold where they can consistently score big runs in challenging pitches. The other camp (which includes me) says that Sachin’s experience may not necessarily come to his rescue this time (it hasn’t over the last year) and by keeping him in the side one is only taking away a potential chance to groom someone, a chance to play Kohli at No.4 and a chance to rebuild a side (which, despite its inexperience may do no worse than what the current side is doing). I mean no set of XI good players can do worse than what India’s Test side has done in Eng, Aus and at home is my humble view.

      • Sankara Raman says:

        Agree with your comment below Sid, 100%.

        @sandeep – you judge skill/ability based on performances in domestic, India A, U-19 tours. To succeed in England, you need openers who can leave the ball – skills like patience/temperament can be gauged quite well – or else we would not have opened with Bangar for instance. Another example, Pujara was known to not have any weakness against short-pitched bowling – he did not score a lot, but batted creditably against Steyn/Morkel in SA. Dravid had built a reputation for good batting in all kinds of surfaces against decent bowling before he was picked finally (a tad too late, me thinks). For one Dravid, you would have tried so many and failed – Yuvraj, Raina, Kaif, etc. But you might unearth someone who would serve you for long rather than count on ‘past’ performers.

        Let us not restrict ourselves to batsmen – how did we know that Praveen Kumar could swing the ball so well – selectors did the right thing in dropping him for Australia.Pick swing bowlers for England, pick spinners who can get help from bounce for SA/Australia tours etc.

        Indian teams are picked based on reputation (Sehwag, Gambhir, Dhoni continuing in the Indian test team) recent form (irrespective of format – someone does well in T20, pick him for ODI, does well in ODIs, pick him in tests!) talent (clamour for Rohit Sharma!) and sentiment (Yuvraj being picked for the England series) and not based on cold logic of whether the Final 11 going in is the best team for the format, conditions and ability to win matches.

        In fact, this is exactly what Ian Chappell has been advocating for the past several years, especially for foreign tours.

  14. Apurv says:

    I’ve often heard experts say this, “it isn’t easy being Sachin Tendulkar”, well but it isn’t easy being Ajinkya Rahane either, or well Tiwari for that matter. No one questioned SRTs place when he made 3 consecutive ducks in ’94 in ODIs, since we all knew that was an aberration (read poor form). But this time, as much as pragmatism tells me, it’s just a descent which is becoming more serious than gradual. He might well hit a solid 100 or so in the next series against the Aussies, but what about when they go to SA. He might well retire before SA, and then what? Expecting the replacement to set the world on fire first up against Steyn and Co. would be asking a bit too much. Even though we’ll never know exactly what would have happened with SRT if he was playing for say, Australia or SA or England, but I guess the odds would have been for him to have said a gracious good-bye way earlier. A certain Stephen Waugh would have so wished he played for India instead. :)

    But then it isn’t just about SRT either. It’s a collective failure and a gigantic one at that. Gambhir and Ishant Sharma are probably the luckiest ones to have played for India – I can’t recall anyone being given that long a rope in my cricket watching history. The failed dabs to third man and oh-so-unlucky (too) short of length deliveries have become a norm. Pankaj Singh can’t figure out what it takes to make it to the team and Bhuv. Kumar didn’t know that either until last week. SMG keeps saying, “Indian cap needs to be earned”. Oh well..

    • sidvee says:

      Agree Apurv. Gambhir and Ishant have got a long rope. And I don’t agree with the logic that the cupboard is bare. Sure there isn’t a conveyor belt of talent but give the domestic performers a chance (by picking on form and format – not leaving out Rohit and Badri from Tests because they’ve had a poor ODI run) and it’s not entirely unlikely that someone will stand up. We have seen it happen in the past. Kapil kept playing and denying Srinath a spot (but even at the time there were people saying, ‘Srinath is not good enough. India needs Kapil to nurture a new set of bowlers’ etc etc). What happened was this: Kapil did no nurturing, India lost time to play Srinath and a few others who never got a chance.

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