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

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