It's a real pity the Board of Control for Cricket in India does not allow its selectors to publicly explain the decisions they take. Even the imaginative and colourful chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth would have found it impossible to defend the selection of mediumpacer S Sreesanth in the Test team to take on Sri Lanka.
Numbers do not tell the whole story, but they are instructive. In 2009, Sreesanth has played nine first-class matches, taking five wickets in an innings only once, for Warwickshire against Yorkshire, and even there he conceded more than 6 an over. In total he had 24 wickets at 35.58, conceding 854 runs from 232 overs.
Despite these unimpressive numbers Sreesanth has been in the news, as usual for all the wrong reasons. First, he made headlines when he was fined 60 percent of his match fees by the BCCI during the Irani Trophy for his conduct. Later on, the Kerala Cricket Association served notice, as Sreesanth, despite being captain of the Kerala team, failed to show up for a preparatory camp.
Just what signals does it send when the rewards for consistent bad behaviour are a Test call up? Are we to understand that Sudeep Tyagi, called into the ODI squad and never played, is considered unfit for the longer version of the game by the national selectors? And what of Munaf Patel, who had a good game in the Irani Trophy? Or L Balaji and Dhaval Kulkarni, who were in the squad for India's last Test assignment, in New Zealand, and have been dropped without even playing?
Had Sreesanth, who has been talking about mounting a comeback bid ever since he last played Tests, against South Africa in 2008, set the world on fire with his bowling, it might have been worth overlooking all the extraneous factors.
But he has done little of note, managing five wickets in a match just twice in the calendar year. In his last Ranji match, against a relatively weak Andhra team, he failed to pick up a single wicket. No one is doubting how destructive Sreesanth is at his best. The problem is, his worst is usually not far away, and at that time the only damage he does is to himself, and his team.
MS Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, M Vijay, Pragyan Ojha, S Sreesanth, S Badrinath