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Team management should be aware of bowlers' mindset

Bad wickets and the unfair rules giving ungainly advantage to batsmen have made fast bowlers a vulnerable breeding population, writes Javagal Srinath.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 14:25 IST

During the Test series against Pakistan, Indian bowling came under severe criticism for its lack of pace and penetration.

Surprisingly, by the end of the one-dayers, India could afford the luxury of resting their best bowler Irfan Pathan to give other bowlers a chance.

In a span of 20 days, one got to hear and see a completely different perspective of Indian bowling. The outside inference is that while there are quite a few takers for the one-day format, the number is not the same for the longer version.

Even if my reading is half true, it could turn out to be a major hindrance towards Indian aspirations of winning Tests abroad.

I know that the present day world has raised doubts over the supremacy of Test cricket over one-dayers. So it's unfair to blame the bowlers totally for their attitude.

Traditionally, the fast bowlers are an oppressed lot in this part of the world. Bad wickets, hot and sapping conditions and to top it all, the unfair rules giving ungainly advantage to batsmen have made fast bowlers a vulnerable breeding population. To have a strong mindset in the midst of it all is quite an ask.

These aspirants grow up with images of successful batsmen and spinners in their mind, not the ones of disillusioned fast bowlers with fewer achievements.

Very soon the fast bowlers, after entering international cricket, realise the ratio of success in a Test match vis-a- vis a one-day game.

Spoils in five-day cricket, which come with excessive toil and dedication, are far too little compared to the work load in one-dayers. A few maiden overs or a couple of wickets during a run plunder will gratify the minds of new entrants in a one-day format.

On the contrary, Testcricket loads one with more responsibility and demand unflinching commitment. Despite the hard work of bowling spells after spells, there could be no tangible rewards in terms of wickets.

Lessons learnt in Test matches are real and long-lasting whereas those in the one dayers have short expiry dates.

Finally, it is the lack of success, which makes the bowlers shun away from Test cricket and show more loyalty to one-dayers.

Balaji, the star of the last tour to Pakistan, and Ashish Nehra are away in Australia with the former sorting out his back and the latter his chronic hip injuries.

Then we have VRV Singh and Munaf Patel. Both are strong contenders but have come out of major injuries. There are few bowlers like Avishkar Salvi, Shib Shankar Paul, Jesuraj and Vinay Kumar, who are among the wickets.

On the whole, there are around 15 who could be in the pool of best fast bowlers in the country at the moment. Once all of them are fit and open for selection, things could be tricky for the selectors to pick the best of the lot. Barring Irfan Pathan, I think the rest of the places are still up for grabs only if the selection criteria are strong.

To graduate to one-dayers on the basis of performance in Test matches is acceptable but the reverse is never a great idea. A bowlers' longing to be in the Test side, along with his performance in the longer version, should be the criteria for one-day selections. In the current set-up, there might be a few who do not want the hardship of Test matches, but prefer the lighter load of one-dayers.

The team management must be cautious about such characters while selecting the team. When thinks get harder, some people always look for shortcuts.

In his heart, Rahul Dravid would surely admit that winning the Test series was more important, if not equally so, than bagging the one-day series.

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 14:25 IST