I understand the Australians aren’t superhuman gods, whose manners and traditions we should blindly follow, but still: if they know the secret to fire, we might as well try and steal it.
Like the Indian team, Australia faced some difficult selection issues in the runup to their Test series against Sri Lanka. Without Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne — and that’s quite a list — Australia had to go about filling in some opened voids in their lineup.
Unlike the Indian team, however, Australia took a sensible approach. It’s not just that India dropped its most consistent batsman in the last decade — given Rahul Dravid’s recent form, I can understand what they are trying to do. But India has an almost obscene fascination of late with young players, and not just sprightly 25-year olds or anything. No, they want really, really young ones, whose first-class experience is just as limited, and who have impressed on an instinctual level, rather than through the tried-and-tested method of, well, experience.
And so, we have a strange team, in which Dinesh Karthik finds a place, even though he is a wicketkeeper, like Dhoni. Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly all find a spot in the team, even though two openers are all you need to tango. The same logic works with our bowlers: yes, there was Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan, but why not also include another left-armed bowler, RP Singh?
This is not to say that any of these players do not deserve a cap. But why not pick domestic players who have proven themselves in specific roles? When Australia needs an opener — after Langer’s retirement — it picks an opener (Phil Jacques). When it needs a spinner, it picks Stuart MacGill, a man who has had to wait for more than a decade for this opportunity as Warne worked his magic. Also, note the long histories these players have at the domestic level: it’s almost as if the selectors there have faith in the domestic process, which seems wholly lacking in the Indian sphere.
This is the harsh reality of cricket selection, and the Indian selectors would do well to understand that. Ideally, players are picked because they fit some specific role in a team, and not the other way around. Players don’t pick teams; teams do.