Time Indian selectors give youngsters chances
In Australia, a debate is raging over selection following Simon Katich's controversial omission from the list of 25 contracted players.india Updated: Jun 18, 2011 23:38 IST
In Australia, a debate is raging over selection following Simon Katich's controversial omission from the list of 25 contracted players.
This argument highlights an area of major difference between two successful cricket nations, Australia and India. As Australia go through a rebuilding phase there's a need to inject youth into the Test side. However, the difficulty for the selectors is the paucity of talent among the batting and spin bowling prospects.
The will has always been strong among Australian selection panels to move aside fading stars for young players with potential. However, apart from a few talented openers, there's precious little young batting talent hammering at the selectors' door.
In India, the problem is of an entirely different hue; there's ample youn batting talent but there isn't the same will among the selectors to gradually phase out aging stars.
The Indian selectors are loath to move aside aging stars to feed some of those younger players into the team. The odd opportunity those players have received in the Test side has come about through injury to a senior.
By being reluctant to blend youth with experience in the Test batting line-up over the last couple of years, the Indian selectors are risking two unsavoury outcomes.
One, they will have to replace the three big names, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman at approximately the same time. Two, when it comes time to rely on the new breed at Test level they might find they're not up to the task.
Often good young players who are left on the sidelines for too long develop bad habits. They don't find it sufficiently challenging to continually play at a lower level and consequently there's a tendency to become sloppy.
This problem is aggravated in India by the huge earnings young players can derive from playing IPL. Nothing diminishes the desire and hunger in youth quicker than hurriedly acquired wealth.
Rohit Sharma is a player in danger of falling into this category. When I first saw him playing ODIs in Australia in 2008 I felt he was the best of the young Indian batsmen. It's hard to fathom that at age 24 he still hasn't played a Test match. His talent is in danger of being under-utilised.
India have achieved plenty of success at Test level recently. However, the selection policy has smacked of "let's make the most of today's talent and if the future turns sour that'll be a problem for the next panel to clean up."
By allowing young players to grow in confidence with guidance from a strong supporting cast, selectors can cater for the present and prepare for the future.
While Australia may lust over some of India's young batting talent the reverse is the case in fast bowling. Australia currently has a really good group of young fast bowlers while India is desperately searching for someone to step into Zaheer Khan's shoes.