It seems the national selection committee headed by Sandeep Patil has picked the 30 probables for the ICC World T20 to be held in Bangladesh this March completely at random.
The reason why the International Cricket Council asks participating countries to send in a jumbo probables list is that in the event of injury to any player, when a replacement is asked for, it has to be from that list.
In such a scenario, you would have imagined that the Indian selectors would have held intense brainstorming sessions before arriving at a decision as to who gets picked.
Unlike several other sports at home, picking a 15-member cricket squad is quite easy.
Yuvraj, Harbhajan among World T20 probables
Roughly 12 players pick themselves almost automatically. Even now, when you look at the 30 names mentioned and you start from the top, the list will read as follows: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, M.S. Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami. The rest of the four slots in the squad could be one all-rounder — Yuvraj Singh or Stuart Binny — and two more medium-pacers among Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Ishwar Pandey.
As per the probables list circulated to the media on Friday, there are some which will make you wonder what they have done to merit inclusion and why some do not figure in the 30.
Excluding Gautam Gambhir from the giant list and putting Unmukt Chand is jarring as the under-19 World Cup winning captain has done little worth note in terms of scoring runs in domestic cricket.
If the yardstick used by the selectors is performances in the Ranji Trophy season, Gambhir has not done badly and as a reserve opener, could have found mention. Then again, it is hard to imagine that someone like Rajat Bhatia finds a mention in the list ahead of Himachal Pradesh all-rounder Rishi Dhawan, whose performances this season have been excellent. Essentially a fast bowler, Rishi has also proved his credentials as a middle-order bat.
To be sure, there are some players whose very mention will ring a bell as they are past their primes. For sure, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who has not even been playing every Ranji match this season, finds a place in the exalted list. The man who used to take a bucketful of wickets is struggling and would perhaps himself be surprised as to why he is in.
If at all the selectors were serious about rewarding talent and performances, they should have taken a close look at the younger lot of players. This list doesn’t seem to convey such intent, as it seems a lot of players have just been picked for the sake of filling the numbers from 16 to 30.
If the absence of Gambhir comes as a surprise, even more galling is how good performers have been left out in the cold. I wonder what kind of a signal the selectors are sending to the players who nurse an ambition of playing for India one day.
Take the case of Parveez Rasool.
The Jammu and Kashmir lad is a true hero in his state and the exploits of his side in the premier domestic competition earned them a grand welcome back home.
People like Rasool come from a background where getting to play cricket is in itself a challenge.
Even if ‘fill-it-shut-it’ is the mantra the selectors chant to name a probables list, to have missed out on Rasool seems a case of injustice. Players like Rasool need encouragement and to have projected him in the probables list would have been nice.
The list does not end here. If you take a look at two players from Punjab, fast bowler Sandeep Sharma and Manan Vohra, both are out in the cold despite delivering the goods.
Mind you, Vohra is an uncapped player deemed so valuable in T20s that he has been retained by Kings XI Punjab.
There are some other players as well who will be scratching their heads as to what wrong they have done to be excluded. It includes some top Ranji performers — Bengal veteran Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Tamil Nadu youngster Baba Aparajith and the talented u-19 captain Vijay Zol.
Somewhere, one gets the impression the selectors have picked some names just based on past reputations, with Yuvraj and Harbhajan figuring prominently in the list.
One of the jokes which do the rounds at the time of selection is how selectors probably rely on pure Cricinfo statistics rather than looking at merit in picking a 14 or 15-member squad.
At this point of time, to a Yuvraj or Bhajji, it does not matter whether or not they are in the 30.
They have done their bit for Indian cricket and to merit selection from here on is very difficult.
If you leave aside the first 15, the selectors have clearly not put their heart and soul in identifying which players chipped in well this season.