India news September 21, 2011

Rotate seniors to grow young players - Kapil

ESPNcricinfo staff

Kapil Dev, the former India captain, has said the selectors need to rotate the seniors - Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman - in the Test team so that the younger players can be given opportunities without weakening the side too much.

"All three seniors - Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman - should not play together in a single Test," Kapil told Indian news channel Aaj Tak. "Two of them can play and one can be rested so that a youngster can be tested in his place. In this manner, we can give a chance to a talented youngster without taking too much risk and making too many changes all of a sudden."

Kapil also said the selectors needed to take tough calls and wanted an orderly phasing out of the senior players. "It is the selectors who will have to take a call on their retirement," he said. "A player never likes to retire. Selectors should see the bigger picture and take a tough decision. But, they [selectors] should do this while giving full respect to these seniors."

Tendulkar and Dravid are both 38, while Laxman is 37. Dravid was Man of the Series during the recent Tests in England, scoring 461 runs at an average of 76.83. Tendulkar and Laxman, though, had poor tours, averaging 34.12 and 22.75.

Sourav Ganguly, however, said retirement should not be forced on the senior players because India did not have the talent to replace them at the moment. "Players like Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman should decide on their own when it comes to taking a call on quitting the game," Ganguly said. "The day their performance drops, they will leave on their own."

Ganguly had retired from international cricket after the Test series against Australia at home in 2008, at a time when there was pressure on the seniors and an influx of youth in the Indian limited-overs sides. No batsman, however, has been able to fill the gap Ganguly left in Test middle-order, with neither Yuvraj Singh nor Suresh Raina cementing their spots.

"It is good to see youngsters perform so well in the shorter format but I am more worried about Tests," Ganguly said. "We haven't seen anyone who can challenge these seniors. Definitely, the time hasn't come to phase out seniors in Tests."

Kapil, however, disagreed with Ganguly's view. "Everyone knows that it is not going to be easy to find replacements for the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman. It is going to be extremely difficult. But youngsters, even though they might have failed in whatever chances they've got till now, have to be given another go.

"Actually the problem is not with their [youngsters'] talent. It is their poor fitness level that is letting them down," Kapil said. "Coach and selectors will have to play a big role in coming times. Youngsters should also learn to take pride in their cricket."

Former India allrounder Madan Lal seconded Kapil's view, saying the youngsters in the team lacked proper work ethic. He also said Suresh Raina, who averaged 13.12 in the four Tests in England, should not be persisted with.

"They [the youngsters] have to up their fitness levels. Players like [Virat] Kohli, [Cheteshwar] Pujara and Rohit [Sharma] will have to be given chances. I will not give another chance to Raina, though, as he has already wasted too many. Instead, Yuvraj [Singh], who hasn't got much opportunity in Tests, should be tested again."