Calcutta (The Telegraph):
That nobody could make Sourav Ganguly’s No.6 position his own, even years after the former captain’s retirement (he quit in November 2008), made the national selectors wary of scripting a phase-out-the-Big 3 plan.The Big 3 being Sachin Tendulkar (who turns 39 on April 24), Rahul Dravid (turned 39 last Wednesday) and V.V.S. Laxman (who is in his 38th year).
“Ideally, something ought to have been in place a year ago, but the Sourav experience discouraged the selectors... Krishnamachari Srikkanth and his colleagues realised that there was nobody really good enough to make a firm claim on the No.6 position..."
“When one position couldn’t be settled, it was too risky ‘reviewing’ the No.3 to No.5 positions... Our failure in England should have been a wake-up call, but the successes at home (immediately afterwards) made most forget the dismal performance there..."
“Dravid got big runs in England, while Sachin and Laxman got runs against the West Indies... How could any one of them not go to Australia? Besides, you can’t talk of phasing out anybody either on the eve of or during a big tour..."
“Today, the situation is out of the selectors’ control... Laxman could decide to announce his retirement... Dravid could review his position after the final Test (in Adelaide)... If nobody says anything, then the selectors will have to assess who stands where once the team returns from Australia...”
That was somebody very important in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), who spoke to The Telegraph on Sunday, some hours after the Border-Gavaskar Trophy was surrendered without even a token fight.
After Adelaide, India’s next Test will either be played in July-August, in Sri Lanka, or at home against New Zealand, in September-October.
The selectors, who met in Chennai to pick the squad for the two T20 Internationals and the tri-series, in Australia, agreed that “the bull had to be taken by its horns.”
Apparently, however, getting to the bull wasn’t exactly discussed!
In fact, there was no tele-conference between Chennai and Perth either before or during the selection committee meeting. So, the selectors couldn’t quiz captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher on the shameful show.
One learns that Srikkanth spoke to the captain and coach on Saturday itself, getting their views on the composition of the squad for the latter part of the tour.
In four of the six innings, India’s total ranged from 161 to 191, while Michael Clarke alone got a triple hundred in the only Australia innings at the SCG. Then, David Warner’s 180 at the Waca Ground was better than India’s effort — 161 and 171.
It does require something special to sink so low and to suffer innings defeats in successive Tests.
While the personnel matter the most, there won’t be any difference till such time that (a) Test cricket and not T20 is promoted as the premier form and (b) there’s an end to preparing wickets which only produce “flat track bullies.”
It’s time that the BCCI looked at the benefits of drop-in pitches.
Sunday’s meeting, meanwhile, began around two hours late as the BCCI president, Narayanswamy Srinivasan, wanted to “interact” with Srikkanth and his colleagues before they got down to business.
With 17 getting picked, Irfan Pathan (tipped as the dark horse in these columns) made it as the fifth medium-pacer. That he’s a good fielder and has it in him to contribute with the bat helped.
Sachin, who hasn’t played ODIs after the last World Cup final, is in the squad. He’d conveyed his availability to Sanjay Jagdale, the BCCI secretary.