Indian probables to be announced on August 9
The Indian selectors, acting on the advice of the captain and coach, will decide on Wednesday about the number of players to be included in the preliminary list to be submitted to the ICC for the Champions Trophy in October.
Though most nations have named, or are in the process of naming 30-man preliminary squads, there has been some debate in the Indian camp over whether to have 30 names, or as few as 22. With Sourav Ganguly expected to be one of the names under consideration, Wednesday's decision will be watched exceedingly closely.
Kiran More, the chairman of selectors whose term expires next month, revealed as much while interacting with the media after the first day of India's final camp prior to the tri-nation tournament in Sri Lanka. The team had regular net sessions today, and a practice match is planned for tomorrow morning.
The much-hyped centre-wicket practices, which simulate match situations better than your ordinary net session, weren't in evidence today, with batsmen and bowlers going through the routine drills. Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag were first into the nets in the morning, while Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh initially played half-pitch on the adjacent cement surface. Lakshmipathy Balaji, who has been out with injury for a year, was among those to bowl to Tendulkar, and he may certainly come into the frame for the Champions Trophy.
Several of the batsmen, and later the bowlers, practised big hits, while most of the bowlers experimented with slower deliveries, which will be of some import on the placid and treacle-slow surfaces expected in Sri Lanka. The players also had a 20-minute session of Edward de Bono's Lateral Thinking method on Sunday evening, and there was a yoga session before nets this morning. When asked about the efficacy of the various techniques employed during the first camp last week, More was fairly vague. "Anything that helps with balance and concentration is good," he said, referring to the one tai-chi session.
According to him, there was no confusion regarding Tendulkar's fitness. Though the board had pronounced him 100% fit, Greg Chappell had revealed soon after his arrival in India that Tendulkar would be made to field in the inner ring since his throwing arm still wasn't up to speed. "You created the confusion," said More, "you listen to what Chappell said," clearly unaware of what the coach said.
The new methods were in More's words, part of a sea change in Indian cricket. "The system that we grew up in, you just did nets, ran ten rounds and then did about 15 sprints. These team games stress on thinking and planning, and there are different leaders, which gives each player more confidence. The routine can become boring, and it's our job to keep the players happy."
He refused to be drawn on the controversy sparked off by extracts from John Wright's book. "I haven't read it yet," said More. "He did much to improve Indian cricket, and I prefer to take whatever he said in a positive way."
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo