The two missing Patels and such…
So, the selectors picked the team for Australia. Most of them pick themselves, so if one’s got to judge a selection, it’s got to be on the 3-4 “debatables”, and the ones who were left out.
Let’s look at the 4 debatables they picked- Pankaj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Karthik
But this is a selection that pleases me more because of the players the selectors left out – namely, Munaf Patel and Ajit Agarkar. I am a pretty big Agarkar fan, despite all the grief he gets from most of the public. Still, speaking neutrally, he’s had his fair share of chances, and blooding a tall fast bowler in his stead is a fair enough call.
And I am just so glad they dropped Munaf. For whatever qualities he has as a bowler (and those aren’t too many), he is an eyesore on the field, and from whatever I have seen of him, is just not spirited enough. He walks and runs about like he’s twice Kumble’s age, for God’s sake!! The only other guy who nearly as lethargic on the field is Laxman, but at least he is an excellent catcher. (aside, given Dravid’s recent travails on the field, it might not be a bad idea for Laxman to replace him in the slips).
So, given the three on offer, I guess Pankaj Singh is a fair call. 1/1 for the selectors.
2) Virender Sehwag – Bad call, this. There were two other contenders – Akash Chopra and Parthiv Patel. Akash Chopra did well last time in Australia, and he seems to be back among the runs of late, but really, the man who should have been on the plane to Australia is that flashy and doughty cricketer from Baroda – Parthiv Patel. He’s been in stunning form in Ranji over the last season and half. I imagine his wicketkeeping has improved too over the past 2 years. No matter, purely as a batsman, he deserved to be in the squad in place of Sehwag who hasn’t done any wonders since his recall to the one-day team, and has been even more woeful in Ranji. He’s been picked purely on past reputation, and I think he’s going to be found out again if he does play. Even if he does well, he frankly doesn’t deserve to be in the team. Methinks Parthiv lost out ‘cos he pissed off Kumble with his atrocious wicket-keeping last time around.
1/2 for the selectors
3) Harbhajan Singh – Another bloke going around on past reputation. I think he’s had his day as a bowler, and he has been very ineffective in this Pak series. Looking at his stats ever since his comeback, it’s fairly clear, he’s no longer a wicket taking threat. It’s unlikely he will play in any case since we will probably field only one spinner. Nevertheless, the selectors could have picked Murali Karthik or Powar in his place. I quite like Powar, and he hasn’t really been given an opportunity in tests. Karthik’s done well most times he’s been picked. I would have probably gone with Karthik given that I think he’s just a shade bit better as a spinner than Powar, but either of them would have been a better pick than Bhajji.
1/3 for the selectors.
4) Dinesh Karthik – The Pak series went pretty poorly for him, but given how well he did in England and his enthusiasm, I think he does deserve an extended run. Gambir as his replacement doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in any case. This will probably be a make-or-break series for Karthik though. If he doesn’t do well, I think we will see Parthiv back soon enough.
2/4 for the selectors. Overall, I think they could have done better with their picks. And they still seem to be loath to call a spade a spade – Saying Munaf needs match fitness, and this sudden thing about Gambir’s shoulder injury is frankly bullshit. What’s the big fear of the “dropped” word in Indian cricket, i wonder.