December 9, 2010

Ranji Trophy, 2010-11

The forgotten drop-outs

Aakash Chopra
Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman shared a century stand, India v Australia, 3rd Test, Delhi, 1st day, October 29, 2008
Not many people remember that VVS Laxman and Gautam Gambhir have not been members of India's World Cup teams  © AFP
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What do the words "World Cup 2003" bring to mind? Perhaps Sachin Tendulkar's inimitable knock against Pakistan, Ashish Nehra's superb six-for against England, and may be the unfortunate loss in the finals too. Not many of us, unless we are die-hard VVS Laxman fans, will remember that he so unjustifiably missed the bus to South Africa. Just like Gautam Gambhir for the 2007 World Cup. Of course, there would never be a mention of Laxman and Gambhir when talking these mega events, but for odd posts like these, that are in a mood to pay homage to the "drop-outs", who in all sincerity, deserved a place.

Seeing someone getting dumped by the team is an ugly sight, however justified the exclusion may be. If he happens to be a key player and, more importantly, a popular player amongst his peers, the emotions are almost certain to run high. There will always be a few in the team who would either be not in the position to show their emotions, or simply not care much. Then there'll be few who would voice their opinion, hurt and perhaps anger in muffled voices. They don't have the clout or reputation in the team to be too loud, or run the danger of getting singled out. And finally, there'll be a handful, may be not more than a couple of guys who will be in a position to influence and may also try to exercise that sway, albeit to no avail. The evening would be soiled by the discussions revolving around the merits of the decision and its repercussions.

But what happens the morning after is in complete contrast and shows how trivial a person's presence is in the bigger picture. The day would start with the same nervousness that engulfs the atmosphere on the morning of a match. The only conversation would be the exchange of pleasantries and greetings. It will be business as usual with the focus completely on the match. Nobody, at least that's how it appears, seems to be missing the guy dropped, for whom everyone felt so dearly. And once the match starts, rest assured that he would be a thing of the past, if he wasn't already. The only time he would be remembered again is if the guy who replaced him did poorly or the team missed him in the middle. It's indeed a selfish world and sport is not beyond it. You may be playing a team sport, spending time as a family, but you would rarely be missed when you're gone.

When someone gets dropped at the international level, it at least ignites a debate but domestic players get axed by the dozens in a season and yet go unnoticed. Chetanya Nanda from Delhi was shown the door after just one poor outing against Bengal in the first game of this season's Ranji Trophy.

His absence from the longer format may have raised a few eyebrows within the team because he had been a regular member of Delhi's playing XI for the last few years. He too may have been missed in the first few days, but as cricket does to everyone, it's plausible that he isn't even missed anymore. Such is life.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by abhi on (March 28, 2011, 12:28 GMT)

Laxman is not sharp at feilding........In a 50 overs deciding matches feilding plays an important role....according to me

Posted by Santhosh Jayakumar on (December 10, 2010, 18:12 GMT)

Nice perspective on how sportsmen are required to detach from emotions and focus on the game so quickly. Bold write-up given that there are die hard cricket fans who are just removed from selection related constraints that selectors have. Should say that things seemed to have got better with people from states that never produced Indian cricketers are in the ranks - Bangar & Kartik from Railways, Sreesanth & Tinu from Kerala, Jadeja and Pujara from Saurashtra etc. I think you have always tried to look at the game from a player/administrator angle and not from a fan and hence it is only natural that some of them will react the way they deem fit, after all Indian cricket fans are Indian cricket fans!!

Posted by Ravi on (December 10, 2010, 13:01 GMT)

Rohit, VVS got dropped in the middle of his best ODI form. 3 centuries in a week in Australia. Even as One day players, I am not sure if there is a comparison between VVS and D.Mongia

Posted by Swaminathan on (December 10, 2010, 2:02 GMT)

Great article, as always. Your features are by far the best content on cricinfo. Thanks a lot for the Insider series.

Yes, the "out of sight, out of mind" phenomenon is common to all team sports, and even to work environments. It is what enables administrators to have so little accountability. But it is also what damages the credibility of the administration in the long run.

Observe the contrast between the extent of credit that the English selectors are getting for their team's success, and the lack of credit to the Indian selectors. Both Kirsten and Flower are heavily appreciated, but the Indian selection committee gets no credit, because everyone can see that they have not been reasonable, and the team succeeds in spite of them.

So the individuals dropped unfairly do get forgotten, but the scars created by their absence remain.

Posted by Rohit on (December 9, 2010, 21:51 GMT)

There was nothing unjustifiable about Laxman being dropped from the 2003 world cup. Ganguly's team at the time was filled with batsmen who could do something extra. Sehwag, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Mongia could bowl. Yuvraj and Kaif were outstanding fielders. The only pure batsman, Dravid, was asked (forced) to keep! Where would Laxman fit in this? Laxman is not a good ODI player. Period. We should accept that and move on. Once there is no need for a slip fielder, he becomes a liability on the field in the shorter formats. He should accept it and retire with grace from the shorter formats. Just like Kohli's good form now in ODIs does not give him the right to ask for a test berth, Laxman should not hope for his test match performances to give him a WC ODI berth.

Posted by Raghavan on (December 9, 2010, 21:06 GMT)

Yeah that's right Aakash still Gautam remains with highest ODI tuns without a ODI cap and pit Pathan the highest wicket taker without a WorldCup cap :(

Posted by Chetan asher on (December 9, 2010, 20:59 GMT)

Typically, players are dropped because the selectors / team management feel that others would do better. I therefore do not understand the sense behind a write-up like this, except maybe to fill up some space on Cricinfo. Anyway, I have learnt that there is one writer on Cricinfo whom I should not waste my time reading.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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