It is easy to talk tough, but to get the team to combine well may not be that easy, writes MAKARAND WAINGANKAR
For any cricketer to be told that he will be rested for a match or a series is a humiliation. It's like someone being asked to proceed on leave after doing a satisfactory job. A player should not be rested until he himself makes a request. If the management feels the player needs rest but isn't asking, they can drop him.
Dilip Vengsarkar said that both Tendulkar and Ganguly had to be rested, as India will be playing 45 one-dayers and 15 Tests in the season. If that was the logic, then wouldn't they need rest after a few series? Asking them to sit at home for ten days even before the 45 matches begin is nothing but bowing to pressure.
Ganguly has spent more time resting last season than playing for the country in the middle. He would be the last person to ask for rest. Tendulkar is restless without a bat. In fact, one wonders what he would do when he calls it a day because the energy level that his Mumbai teammates saw during the Twenty20 tournament in the scorching heat of Ahmedabad was so high that even younger players found it difficult to cope with his running between the wickets.
Both these greats, who have contributed to the tremendous success of Indian cricket for more than a decade, have the right to feel that they are being penalised for no fault of theirs if the BCCI has gone by what Chappell has reported about the seniors. So two seniors are rested, Agarkar and Harbhajan Singh are dropped. Sehwag is not a certainty anymore. Pathan is confused with all the coaching tips he received from former players.
Combination-wise this is not a bad team as the slots have been created strategically but players chosen for those slots will have to perform. If Dinesh Karthik, on the strength of one performance, can be considered a replacement for Sehwag in the opening slot, then he has to be given a fair chance to open on the tour of England.
The plan seems to be to leave one spot open for Sehwag in Tests in case he gets into form in the one-dayers against Bangladesh. But what happens if that doesn't happen? Is Karthik capable of negotiating the new ball in the English conditions after the series against Bangladesh? Remember, even seasoned openers struggle in English conditions.
The irony is that there are three specialist openers in the side for three one-dayers and only one specialist opener for two Tests. Strategically, that spot ought to have been filled with a specialist opener like Akash Chopra who is an ideal partner for stroke-player Wasim Jaffer.
Manoj Tiwary, picked for the one-dayers, is an exceptional talent but he scored all his runs in the Ranji Trophy and not in the one-dayers. In fact, Rohit Sharma has had some fantastic performances in the one-dayers and he has not been picked. Tiwary ought to have been selected for the Tests and Sharma for the one-dayers.
The bowlers picked themselves, though one feels sorry for Ranadeb Bose whose type of bowling will be more effective in English conditions. The spinners Ramesh Powar and Rajesh Pawar are extremely aggressive and competitive. Having been brought up in the environment of lower middle class society, they relish tough situations.
Now is the test for Ravi Shastri. For any cricket coach, it's easy to talk tough but getting a demoralised team to combine well is not as easy. A feeling of insecurity among the players still persists. And that will affect the morale of the team when the two stalwarts return for the tour of England feeling absolutely insecure. The whole thing has been handled in a shoddy way and for this we can't blame Greg Chappell.