Australia in India 2009-10 October 15, 2009

Don't ask, don't tell

A senior player has been given reason to feel slighted, while youngsters have been made to feel less sure of their aptitude. vision and transparency are conspicuous by their absence

The secrecy with which the Indian board works sometimes has the air of an undercover nuclear project to it, but the muddled thinking suggests that the plans, if any at all, have long been mislaid.

Rahul Dravid, a proven performer in ODIs despite the image he bears of being a misfit in the format, with close to 11,000 runs and 350 caps, and physically fit to play the energy game, would have expected to be selected despite being 36. Wrong.

He was selected for the Champions Trophy at a time when the selectors thought the younger stars were not good enough, or experienced enough, to face quality fast bowling in testing conditions. On the surface - a conjecture because nobody really knows - it seemed age was not a criterion, form and fitness were. Moreover, Dravid would mentor the youngsters to ensure a smooth transition. So far, so good.

In the six matches he got, Dravid brought to the middle order the stability that was missing, opened the innings once, and scored 180 in five innings. Nothing spectacular, but the question is, did he do the job given to him? He wouldn't be able to tell you because he didn't know what was expected of him. Then he was dropped when it came to playing on the batting beauties in India.

The second question: Are the Rohit Sharmas and Virat Kohlis so inept that they can't be trusted to fight through one hint of adversity, but at the same time so good on batting tracks that they suddenly again become the future of Indian cricket? How much do they need to be pampered?

Thursday's decision has given a senior player reason to feel slighted, while the youngsters have been made to feel less sure of their aptitude. Vision and transparency are conspicuous by their absence. Neither has Dravid been given time to provide solutions to the issues that existed - and they did and do exist - nor have the youngsters become better batsmen. Two important tournaments have amounted to zilch, if not negative.

Was the selectors' thinking actually so short term, as to bring Dravid back just for the Champions Trophy? Are they now suddenly thinking as far ahead as the World Cup on the subcontinent in 2011? Will Dravid come back when India travel to South Africa next year? Will he come back if Suresh Raina gets out to a bouncer again, as he did to one from Ashok Dinda in the final of the Challenger Trophy? Oh for simple answers. But the Indian selectors, unlike their counterparts in the rest of the world, are not allowed to make clear their rationale.

If they always had the World Cup on their minds, couldn't India have punted on the bright youngsters in a limited-overs tournament? Will their Test careers too begin like this? The first few matches on placid tracks, then dropped in favour of a better technician when India travel abroad, and back again for flat pitches? Are we moving into an age of separate teams for home and away matches? Again, no answers.

Those deciding the fate of players, held accountable by the millions, are seemingly not accountable to anybody - not the public, not the players

All it takes is a press conference - every international team has one, especially when four international players are dropped in one go (and spare a thought for the two coaches who had their jobs terminated on Thursday without the courtesy of a phone call or even an SMS). But apparently the BCCI doesn't think the selectors are smart enough or responsible enough to shed light on the decisions they make. Those deciding the fate of players held accountable by millions are seemingly not accountable to anybody - not the public, not the players.

To their credit, this selection committee hasn't been implicated in planting malicious stories or convoluted conspiracy theories in the press, except for one occasion when one unnamed worthy spoke about MS Dhoni's alleged support for RP Singh. There's enough juicy material here, though, for an anonymous selector, or a source close to him, to resume the time-honoured tradition of alluding to a rift between Dhoni and Dravid, the kind we once read of as existing between Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. If only there was a press conference to explain what they thought when they brought Dravid back and then dropped him - because otherwise they are just too thoughtless to make sense of.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sandy on October 18, 2009, 17:11 GMT

    raina will be a walking wicket against the aussies..

  • Sony on October 18, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    Cannot understand this over concern over dravid's exclusion from the team. Everyone accepts that he is a legend with over 11k ODI runs. Here the selectors just reacted to 2 different situations. 1) In CT, shewag and yuvaraj were out due to injuries, this plus our top orders problems against short pitched bowling on bouncy tracks. So selectors had no other option other than getting dravid as it solves both the above mentioned problems (adds experience and solidity to top order). 2) In this new series against aus, shewag and youraj are back and pitches are flat. with sachin, shewag, ghambir, yuvaraj, dhoni filling first 5 spots, there is no way we can include dravid in top order. everyone will agree that dravid will not be of much value at no 6. so if we cannot include him in the eleven, why add additional pressure by taking him in the team. Bottom line is if you give more priority to the needs of Indian team rather than an individual, you will see that what the selectors did is right.

  • George on October 18, 2009, 8:53 GMT

    Dravid, for no doubt is the best No.3 and the most consistant and reliable batsman india had ever produced. You may not be in the records books along with sachin or lara but the technics he plays and the runs he scored are the biggest proof to name him as Mr.Consistant. Dravid deserves a place in the current indian team, and i still believe if his anchor innings was not there, indian innings would have collapsed aganist our chase in pakistan and we would have defeated badly.The biggest mistake Dravid did was that he stepped down as captain after world cup defeat. Time never comes back to correct a bad decision.

  • rajesh on October 17, 2009, 5:15 GMT

    Which team doesnt have problems while playing abroad? Even Ricky Ponting had lot of problems in playing spin when he was young. And all western players struggle when they play under sub continent pitches for the first time.Its the same case with Indian youngsters too, when they struggle in hard bouncy pitches.The problem can be solved only by the player himself and not by the Board. Youngsters must learn from greats like Sachin and Ponting, like how they solved their problems. While it was facing pace and bounce for Sachin, for Ponting it was playing spin. Only hardwork and interest from the player himself can solve the problem.

  • Teerthesh on October 16, 2009, 20:25 GMT

    Last hope to see some quality batting from Indian player diminishes. Its good in a way as Dravid won't have to turn himself like others to meet silly expectations. Disrespect is part of your new hire package when you sign up to play for BCCI. We'd be commenting all day if these bunch of idiots starts justifying their decisions. Some of these youngsters are promising players and restricting their growth by denying internationnal tournaments is just not good for Indian cricket or for players. I just hope they don't meet the fate of my fav Vinod Kambli.

  • J Ranjith on October 16, 2009, 19:34 GMT

    Why is there a concern over Dravid being dropped!!! He is a legend, but if you are talking about India's vision, we need young players. Dravid was called in place of Sehwag, that everyone knows. So when sehwag comes back, everyone should know what would happen. But selectors are giving chance to either too young people or too old people. Giving place to Kohli is not at all necessary when experienced and talented player like Badrinath or Rohit is wasted. Dravid has become a legend now because he was given so much n so much of chance in his young days. Those 2 players have not got that and they could not convert their talent so far at this level. If we want to see more Dravids coming up, we need to give chance to right people when a player of stature like Dravid is stopped. I too am not sure if selectors have any standard vision. They are a bit confused now, calling Dravid in the side when neglecting young talented players!!

  • Hot on October 16, 2009, 19:18 GMT


    It is of no doubt that you, alongside Kapil Dev are the most valuable player India has ever produced. You have never needed any gimmick, any controversy nor any "help" from any selectors to do what you do best - save India the trouble, time and again.

    You will always be remembered and cherished. Hope to see your team bash up Delhi later today :-)

  • Soumya on October 16, 2009, 18:31 GMT

    The same thing happened to Ganguly too. Its OK when you have to drop players, be it Ganguly, Dravid or even Sachin but there are norms or atleast respect. You can treat those kind of players as add-ons. Those are the players because of whom we expect the team to win World Cup.

    People have said a lot about Dravids strike rate. ITs 71%, but then when the replacement is Rohit Sharma its no good. His is also 72%. There can always be phasing of cricketers, the way they kicked out Ganguly, Dravid is awful. They could have kept them in playing 15 and rotated the Big 4 all while to give yougsters chance and when the youngsters were fit enought these uys would have gracefully retired. Instead you put all 4 to play for 10 yrs and then throw them out all at one go and expect all those new joinees to perform. I mean even Australia struggled when all seniors left, you are only India.

  • Vijay on October 16, 2009, 18:27 GMT

    All hitters can not make one day side. there is stability needed in the middle especially in low scoring games. Thats is were Dravid comes to act. Age should not able criteria to eliminate one Dravid much fit player than Tendulkar. There are lot of young opening batsmen available for India in ODIs but the no other middle order batsman like the wall.

  • najib on October 16, 2009, 17:37 GMT

    Yes, they can drop ganuly and then dravid, but the selectors have to think for the future. What about mohd.Kaif. His name is not mentioned in the cricket circles. He and Yuvraj had helped India win a series against England. He scored a century against west Indies and the he was wished , Good Bye. Why?

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