Hats off to Sourav Ganguly on his hundredth Test and his recent dramatic comeback. There is no question that he is easily one of India’s top cricketers of all time and deserves all the accolades.
Check out his recent interview on Cricinfo. What caught my attention, was his comment about India becoming a dominant force in world cricket. One can’t but help think that his statement has more than a tinge of insecurity.
To be honest, I’ve not seen anything special, except for Yuvraj and Sehwag in the batting, and Harbhajan, Sreesanth and RP. Zaheer is a seasoned campaigner, so I’m not including him in this bracket. We need some more quality players coming through, especially in terms of batting.
This is precisely the mindset among selectors and current players that is preventing India from becoming a dominant force. Unfortunately, Vengsarkar made a similar comment a while back. How do you know if there is available talent unless you give players successful at the domestic level a chance to prove themselves at the international level?
Present day top contenders (to name a few):
Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Suresh Raina, C. Pujara, Mohd. Kaif, Aakash Chopra, Gautam Gambhir, Manoj Tiwari, Venugopal Rao, Parthiv Patel.
Players who lost out (purely because their careers overlapped with big stars):
Badani, S. Sriram, S. Sharath, Amol Majumdar, Dinesh Mongia, RS Sodhi, Navneet Ricky, S. Joshi.
The reason why India has failed to dominate despite its vast pool of talent and endless resources is the lack of a consistent policy towards giving youngsters an opportunity to perform at the highest level. A few basic steps to address this issue:
- A documented and well-communicated rotation policy is an absolute must.
- A firm policy to give up and coming players an opportunity when playing second string teams like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
- The 20-20 experiment of playing youngsters must be extended to ODIs sooner rather than later.
- There is no need to always play the big stars. Playing 20-20 with youngsters was a terrific start and the results are there to show for it. Unfortunately, it will take a disastrous performance in Australia for a fundamental change in thinking. The bad news is that India might swing to the other extreme a dump a whole bunch of stars when they still have plenty to contribute.
- Last but not the least, have open communication with the players. Let the players (especially the senior players) know where they stand irrespective of whether they are in the team or not.
Ganguly’s comment is a sad reflection of the state of Indian cricket. A top seasoned player despite his record still appears to be rather insecure. Instead of naming some of the up and coming stars with potential and pointing to India’s recent 20-20 success, he chose a largely self-serving path instead. One can’t help but speculate that there is some truth to Greg Chappel’s comments about Ganguly’s insecurity.
The selectors and the BCCI are partly to blame for the mental state of India’s stars. The BCCI/selectors have not been communicating effectively with it players and instead subjecting them to shoddy treatment. The recent treatment of Rahul Dravid, being a case in point.