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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Rotation policy of little relevance in India’s context
Aakash Chopra, Hindustan Times
February 12, 2012
First Published: 23:56 IST(12/2/2012)
Last Updated: 23:58 IST(12/2/2012)
Sachin Tendulkar gestures during a training session at the WACA in Perth, Australia. Australia will play India in the third test. (AP Photo)

Indian cricket seems to be obsessed with the 'rotation policy'. What is it? The concept took form when Australia reached a crescendo in early 2000.

They had reached a stage when the only way to improve was to compete with oneself. That’s when they introduced the policy for ‘in-form’ cricketers. The idea was to rest a player after a few games, regardless of a sterling performance, in order to give an opportunity to his peer. This kept them on their toes and, more importantly, maintained form.

But, is this policy relevant to the Indian context, especially when the team is under fire? We are told that the three seniors at the top of the order would keep replacing each other. The rationale is to give the youngsters an extended run, allowing them a cushion to fail in the middle order without worrying about getting the sack.

But, in doing so, aren’t the fundamentals being inverted? Ironically, we are rotating the players who're already struggling for form and in the bargain we have almost resigned to losing an early wicket each time. Losing an early wicket is a concern, but the bigger concern is that a player is rested after a solitary botched outing, thereby denying him the opportunity to rediscover form.

This compulsory rotation at the top has also sent a wrong message to the middle order. The batsmen are most likely to think that regardless of the errors they commit, they are guaranteed of a place in the starting XI. Is this acceptable?

While I understand the need to prepare for the future, it may not be advisable to sacrifice the present. If we need to rotate players, we must stick to those who're in form and have earned a break.

Also, if the ploy is to placate the fans who’ve been vocal in criticising the seniors for the Test debacle, it’s a short-term solution. If we don't get back to winning ways, the fans will not only criticise the cricketers but also the unfathomable strategies employed by the team.

The writer is a former India opener and plays domestic cricket for Rajasthan


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