An extraordinary statement by Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of the Indian cricket selection committee, is sure to leave Indian fans, already disheartened by the one-day team's performance graph over the past six months, even more depressed.
On Monday, Vengsarkar said it was unfortunate that there seemed to be no back-up talent available in India. That was why the selection committee had little choice but to continue with known faces. Saying there was "no exceptional talent around", he added "of those who play first-class cricket, there is no one good enough yet, other than those who have already made the transition to international cricket".
What Vengsarkar said may be remarkably candid, but it is also rather insensitive. It may demoralise upcoming cricketers across the country on a day the selection committee opted for experience rather than fresh talent in the changes it made for India's one-day squad to South Africa. The first of the five ODIs there will be played on November 16.
Suresh Raina and Irfan Pathan -- whose performances of late have led to debates about their form -- have been retained in the 16-member squad. Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble are back. The big surprise is the selection of Test opener Wasim Jaffer. Vengsarkar said he was preferred to Delhi's Gautam Gambhir because he was technically sounder, and thus could be expected to perform better on the grassy wickets of South Africa.
Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Mohd. Kaif, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Mongia, Munaf Patel, S Sreesanth, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, M S Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Ajit Agarkar/VRV Singh, Yuvraj Singh/Dinesh Kaarthick.