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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

Cricket Columns

Time for selectors to stop investing in short-term goals
Aakash Chopra
March 06, 2012
First Published: 23:55 IST(6/3/2012)
Last Updated: 02:04 IST(10/3/2012)

Statistics are known to hide a lot more than they reveal, yet when they do the talking, they can be pretty unforgiving. A look at India's report card overseas, since June 2011, tells us just that.

Two whitewashes in England and Australia made the score line 0-8 in Test matches, while a whitewash in England and a below average performance in the CB Series in Australia made it 3-7 in ODI with 2 tied games.

Post the England debacle, the "wise men" made us believe that it was the players' injuries that had marred our chances and that India's appalling play overseas was merely an aberration. Little did we realize then, that even if injuries had played spoilt sport, we still needed to work on our bench strength-after all, good teams don't mull over the personnel they are missing, for they always have able replacements ready. Did Australia miss Shane Warne in the 2003 World Cup?

A couple of months of decent show in India following the humiliation suffered in England was enough to put us back into our cocoons, all was well with the world. The tour to Australia was expected to reinforce our stature as one of the best teams in the world.

Unfortunately, cricket exposes all, it's a great leveler. The whitewash in Test series happened despite fielding the 'best team', and the ordinary ODI performances had nothing to do with injuries. It's imperative to wake up from the slumber, at least now.

Wake up call
The first step towards improvement is acceptance, for you can't change a thing till you believe that something needs to be changed. We could take a cue from Cricket Australia, who conducted an in-depth Argus Review following the Ashes loss. They appointed a committee, which had no affiliations or biases. 

Dropping the seniors and blooding the youth has been the most predictable suggestion post the outcome. But does it really serve the purpose when the so-called 'youth' has been equally disappointing?

Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar aren't going to be there forever and hence their lack of performance isn't any earth shattering news. The question that begs to be asked is have we managed to unearth any talent (barring Kohli) who looks like filling these shoes?

The youngsters who are likely to replace these men aren't spring chickens anymore and hence their failure overseas is an area of grave concern. This obsession with youth can only work if the youth has the technique and temperament.

Selectors can use these 18 months of playing cricket in the sub-continent to find players who are likely to succeed overseas. Investing in such players may mean losing a few games in the sub-continent but that's a small price to pay.

(The writer is a former India opener and plays for Rajasthan.)


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