When India bowed out of the 2007 World Cup in the preliminary stages, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had announced the need to create a bench strength for reviving India’s ODI team’s fortunes.
With India’s young side conceding a second successive defeat to Zimbabwe in the tri series on Thursday, cricket fans cannot be blamed for concluding that India does not have a credible bench strength.
“When you see a performance like this, naturally it gives that impression,” Venkatapathy Raju, former international left-arm spinner who has also been a member of the national selection panel, told Hindustan Times after Suresh Raina and Co. caved in against Zimbabwe again.
“It brings the lack of quality fast bowlers and spinners to the fore. The problem with domestic cricket is that with the thrust on preparing wickets that would suit medium pace bowlers, our batsmen are finding it difficult to play even quality spin bowlers.”
The BCCI, in the aftermath of the 2007 debacle, had also spelt out the need to organise more India A tours.
But the number of A tours have barely increased in the last two years, which has obviously deprived talented domestic cricketers a feel of higher level cricket.
“An overdose of cricket has meant that the side games have reduced drastically in the recent past,” Raju said. “The lack of tour games affected India’s performance in last month’s World Twenty20 and it did play a part in Zimbabwe too. Moreover, minus the exposure not many of these youngsters can adapt to different conditions. That obvious from the fact that hardly any of them have been able to cope up with the conditions in Zimbabwe.”
When K Srikkanth and his four colleagues on the selection panel decided to rest seven members who form the nucleus of the ODI team for the series in Zimbabwe, it was termed as a calculated risk.
But former chairman of selectors Kiran More doesn’t think so. “It was a big blunder. They shouldn’t have rested all the seven seniors at one go,” More said.
“I don’t see the likes of Ashoke Dinda or Umesh Yadav or Pankaj Singh being in the scheme of things for the World Cup,” he added.
The former stumper said the flawed selection policy has not only marred India’s chances in Zimbabwe but has also depleted the India ‘A’ squad that left for England.
“The selectors have messed up both the squads. They should have used the Zimbabwe series as an opportunity to boost the confidence of the likes of S Sreesanth, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma and RP Singh to regain their confidence and the pace bowlers who are in Zimbabwe right now should have been in England instead.”