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Grade players as per conditions

More rigour required while selectors evaluate performances of players, writes Aakash Chopra.

india Updated: Sep 15, 2011 22:00 IST
Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra

This year, while playing in the Buchi Babu tournament on barren surfaces in Chennai, I realised the contest was skewed far too heavily in the batsman’s favour. The ball swung only for a couple of overs, the bounce was below knee level, and even if the pitch afforded some spin, it was really slow. To make matters worse for the bowlers, it was hot and humid. Batsmen made merry and the hapless bowlers were reduced to mere spectators.

Being a bowler in Chennai, especially a fast bowler, is a punishable offence. No wonder there are hardly any fast bowlers from here. On the contrary, great batting conditions ensure at least two or three batsmen from TN end up in the top half of the highest run-scorers list in the country. Similarly, fast bowlers in the North have the distinct advantage of bowling in seamer-friendly conditions in the cold months. If the North belongs to the fast bowlers and south to the batsmen, wickets made of red soil, found in the West, or the slow-low turners in U.P., inflate the figures of spinners.

So, how do you assess an individual’s performance when it comes to national selection? Should you go with numbers or delve a little deeper?

Whenever one skims through averages, it’s advisable to spend some time to find out where the player in question played most of his first-class games, and against which opposition. Similarly, there’s a huge gulf in the quality of cricket between the Plate and Elite divisions.

Statistics can be misleading. My suggestion is to have scores of Talent and Research Officers under the National Selection Committee who’re present in every first-class match. That way a ton scored in trying conditions in Mohali will carry more weight than the one scored on a placid Chepauk surface.

While many gloat about India’s outstanding performances in the Emerging Players’ tournament, one must take note of the standard of the tournament. Most countries (except India) fielded their U-23 team.

Also, when most of our batsmen got big hundreds, it’s worth observing they did precious little besides that solitary big hundred. Only Ajinkya Rahane scored two centuries and Ashok Menaria one, in the two innings he played on the tour.

First Published: Sep 15, 2011 21:58 IST