August 16, 2012

Anyone thinking of South Africa 2013?

The squad for the New Zealand series is just that, with hardly an eye on what will happen when India tour next
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It has been a few days since the Indian squads for the World Twenty20 and the New Zealand Test series were picked, and I must say I have still not got over the selection of the Test side.

I was hoping the selectors would look at this pick as the first in a series of selections aimed towards the Indian tour to South Africa in November 2013. It's only on that tour that India can reclaim their lost aura as a Test team. Nothing that they do at home before that will help improve their image, if they then go on to have yet another disastrous tour overseas.

I believe after 80 years at the international level, with so many forces working in favour of Indian cricket, and also now that they are a former No. 1 Test team, India should look to set themselves the highest standards in world cricket. Which means they need to try hard to win at home but harder to win abroad. It is overseas that India lost their self-esteem as a Test team, and it's only there that they will find it back.

The ten Test matches at home before that South Africa tour provide the selectors the perfect opportunity to build a team that has the best chance to compete well overseas in the winter of 2013. All these opportunities at home should be given only to - particularly in the case of batsmen - players who can make the most of the chances and return the favour with good performances in South Africa.

I do not think, though, that this is how the selectors have thought, looking at the squad for the two Tests against New Zealand. I expect most batsmen who get an opportunity to get runs against New Zealand at home - or even, for that matter, against the likes of England and Australia at home. Test cricket at home for Indians, I have always believed, is grade two Test cricket; Test cricket in South Africa, England and Australia is grade one. The important question is, how many of these batsmen from grade two (who will most likely be in form at the end of the home run) can be expected to do well in grade one?

It's in this regard that India's opening batting combination should have been looked at more seriously. To go with Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag as India's opening pair again in Tests in South Africa would be a gamble. After what happened in England and Australia, India just cannot afford to gamble overseas again with the same hand of cards.

If I were the chief selector, I would have had a chat with Sehwag, conveyed to him my intent to bat him down the order, and had Gambhir open with Ajinkya Rahane in the first Test against New Zealand. Sehwag on many occasions has made it clear that he would like to bat down the order in Tests at some point in his career; I think that time has come.

With the retirement of Rahul Dravid, Indian batting has lost a lot of solidity and experience. To go to South Africa heavy on youth will not be a good idea, and this is where Sachin Tendulkar becomes important, almost indispensable for India.

I am not aware of what kind of a dialogue there has been between Tendulkar and the selectors over the last few months, but I hope they have conveyed to him that India need him badly for the Test matches come that winter tour of South Africa, 2013.

Another call that the selectors had to make was regarding VVS Laxman. I think his average of 22.75 against England and 19.37 against Australia, with a good home series against West Indies in between, tells us something about Laxman. It was an issue the selectors needed to address.

Opportunities in the Tests at home should be given only to - particularly in the case of batsmen - players who can make the most of the chances and return the favour with good performances in South Africa

I still cringe thinking of how India missed a great chance to test Rohit Sharma or Rahane in the final Test, in Adelaide, early this year, when they had nothing at stake, with the series already lost. But they stuck to the same losing formula to get another losing result. Who knows what might have happened if they had done otherwise? Picking one of the youngsters was an exciting option, with some promise of long-term benefit, which India refused to take, going on to lose their eighth consecutive overseas Test.

Come winter 2013, Laxman will be 39. His fitness in Australia (the last time we saw him in action) and his performances there told us something. In comparison, I thought Tendulkar looked a lot fitter and more likely to get runs than Laxman in those conditions. If I had to back one of the two veterans going forward, it would be Tendulkar: he looks a lot fitter than Laxman does, despite the large difference in the number of years they have each played international cricket for. At home, fitness does not matter so much but in grade one Test cricket, as we have seen, it does, a lot.

Laxman will no doubt score runs at home with the kind of experience he has and some skills still intact, but in South Africa, more than a year older, he will once again be a gamble. Also, every opportunity given to him at this stage of his career, considering his recent form, is an opportunity denied to a young talent who might yield long-term returns.

The team selected does not hint at long-term vision, nor has the chairman said anything to suggest it. The selectors have done the convenient thing and simply picked a team for the two Tests against New Zealand, leaving cricketing fate to take its own course.

As chairman of selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth picked some good squads during his tenure, although the selections of playing XIs was often hard to understand. I wonder how much of a say he had in those, but his last pick will perhaps determine the legacy he leaves behind as an India selector: a man who had a tendency to make popular selections.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 19, 2012, 5:08 GMT

    I would Rather like Gambhir to come down the order as he gives a left handed option in the middle order.. with Laxman Retired now my top 6 for 1st Test would be - Sehwag, Rahane, Pujara, Sachin, Gambhir & Kohli

  • Harmony111 on August 18, 2012, 22:13 GMT

    @ansram: Your argument is hardly an argument. If I use your argument, what exactly have England achieved? They defeated an aged Oz side that was on the decline and struggling to find replacements, they defeated an aged unprepared Indian side that was tired after playing non stop cricket since Nov 2010 and in any case, that came at home. Show me which formidable team have England dominated? Actually the very word "Formidable" means the formidable team would be very hard to beat lol. Your stand says that any team India beats away would be a weak team on one reason or the other. What if one says that Oz never won the WC defeating a formidable team cos Pak scored 134, India conceded 359 and SL were blown away in 07 !!! You called a 3-0 or 2-0 win "A win over a weak team" and you called a 1-0 series win "A win eked out desperately" !!! Cricinfo pls publish, this ain't as asinine as the comment this is in response to. :-p

  • Mr_Anonymous on August 18, 2012, 21:34 GMT

    "Come winter 2013, Laxman will be 39. His fitness in Australia (the last time we saw him in action) and his performances there told us something. In comparison, I thought Tendulkar looked a lot fitter and more likely to get runs than Laxman in those conditions. If I had to back one of the two veterans going forward, it would be Tendulkar".

    Sanjay, you have now got your wish. Let's see if you are right and if Tendulkar can actually continue his form and make the SA 2013 tour. If he does, I will agree with your assessment here. Remember that Laxman would have been 39 but Tendulkar will be 40 years and 8 months come winter 2013. I personally don't care about anyone's age as long as they are fit and playing well although I do think it will be a big challenge for Tendulkar. I do agree with your view that Sehwag now needs to come down the order (likely at no. 5 or 6) and that perhaps we need to give Rahane/Gambhir combination a chance starting now.

  • on August 18, 2012, 18:21 GMT

    sachin is mentally better after making a 100th hundred.. he will be in old form soon ...

  • Saravjit on August 18, 2012, 16:21 GMT

    This Guy who never won a Test for India is Talking About VVS who single Handedly Won at Least 10 Tests.................Does he know Joburg 2006 and Durban 2010 wins were due to VVS Heroics

  • on August 18, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    My test team would have been Ms Dhoni, G Gambhir, S Tendulkar, S Badrinath,V Sehwag, A Rahane, V Kohli, C Pujara, Z Khan, R Ashwin, I Sharma, P Kumar, P Ojha, U Yadav, S Raina... Best 15 players

  • jay57870 on August 18, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    Sanjay - What 20-20 hindsight! It's easy to second-guess selectors' choices after the fact. Who'd have imagined a year ago that No 1 India would fall off the cliff so suddenly? Reality 1: Competition's more even nowadays: there's parity among teams. The dynasties are gone. The race is wide open: Eng, SA, Ind, Oz may look like top contenders, but SL, WI, Pak can be spoilers. That's why Sanjay's Grade 1 & 2 Test logic is a fallacy! Also bizarre is Sanjay's obsession with India's batting lineup, while completely ignoring its bowling problems! Reality 2: India's bowling is clearly its Achilles' heel! It's a slippery slope if the bowlers cannot take 20 wickets. Zaheer's ageing & nobody's replaced Kumble. Finding a core group of seamers/spinners/all-rounder is India's most pressing need - not VVS or SRT! Reality 3: Focus on NOW - NZ series! No point in "thinking of SA 2013"! It's too far away! Nothing is 100%. Except for the great VVS. Sanjay need not worry about him now. Happy, Sanjay?

  • on August 18, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    I agree with one thing. I think Gautam Gambhir should open with someone else like Ajinkya Rahane so build a future opening pair. Just like how Viru and Gauti's pair was made, it's time to make a new pair.

  • Naresh28 on August 18, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    ALL SENIOR EX_CRICKETERS SHOULD USE TACT WHEN DEALING WITH THESE AGED BATTING STARS. YES THEY WILL RETIRE VERY SOON. YOUR IMPATIENCE SHOWS A COMPLETE LACK OF UNDERSTANDING. LAXMAN WILL PLAY HIS LAST GAME IN ALL PROBABLITY ON HIS HOME GROUND. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK.

  • on August 18, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    Manjrekar forgot the fact that India won one Test during last SA Tour due to Laxman's heroics and just him...

  • on August 19, 2012, 5:08 GMT

    I would Rather like Gambhir to come down the order as he gives a left handed option in the middle order.. with Laxman Retired now my top 6 for 1st Test would be - Sehwag, Rahane, Pujara, Sachin, Gambhir & Kohli

  • Harmony111 on August 18, 2012, 22:13 GMT

    @ansram: Your argument is hardly an argument. If I use your argument, what exactly have England achieved? They defeated an aged Oz side that was on the decline and struggling to find replacements, they defeated an aged unprepared Indian side that was tired after playing non stop cricket since Nov 2010 and in any case, that came at home. Show me which formidable team have England dominated? Actually the very word "Formidable" means the formidable team would be very hard to beat lol. Your stand says that any team India beats away would be a weak team on one reason or the other. What if one says that Oz never won the WC defeating a formidable team cos Pak scored 134, India conceded 359 and SL were blown away in 07 !!! You called a 3-0 or 2-0 win "A win over a weak team" and you called a 1-0 series win "A win eked out desperately" !!! Cricinfo pls publish, this ain't as asinine as the comment this is in response to. :-p

  • Mr_Anonymous on August 18, 2012, 21:34 GMT

    "Come winter 2013, Laxman will be 39. His fitness in Australia (the last time we saw him in action) and his performances there told us something. In comparison, I thought Tendulkar looked a lot fitter and more likely to get runs than Laxman in those conditions. If I had to back one of the two veterans going forward, it would be Tendulkar".

    Sanjay, you have now got your wish. Let's see if you are right and if Tendulkar can actually continue his form and make the SA 2013 tour. If he does, I will agree with your assessment here. Remember that Laxman would have been 39 but Tendulkar will be 40 years and 8 months come winter 2013. I personally don't care about anyone's age as long as they are fit and playing well although I do think it will be a big challenge for Tendulkar. I do agree with your view that Sehwag now needs to come down the order (likely at no. 5 or 6) and that perhaps we need to give Rahane/Gambhir combination a chance starting now.

  • on August 18, 2012, 18:21 GMT

    sachin is mentally better after making a 100th hundred.. he will be in old form soon ...

  • Saravjit on August 18, 2012, 16:21 GMT

    This Guy who never won a Test for India is Talking About VVS who single Handedly Won at Least 10 Tests.................Does he know Joburg 2006 and Durban 2010 wins were due to VVS Heroics

  • on August 18, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    My test team would have been Ms Dhoni, G Gambhir, S Tendulkar, S Badrinath,V Sehwag, A Rahane, V Kohli, C Pujara, Z Khan, R Ashwin, I Sharma, P Kumar, P Ojha, U Yadav, S Raina... Best 15 players

  • jay57870 on August 18, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    Sanjay - What 20-20 hindsight! It's easy to second-guess selectors' choices after the fact. Who'd have imagined a year ago that No 1 India would fall off the cliff so suddenly? Reality 1: Competition's more even nowadays: there's parity among teams. The dynasties are gone. The race is wide open: Eng, SA, Ind, Oz may look like top contenders, but SL, WI, Pak can be spoilers. That's why Sanjay's Grade 1 & 2 Test logic is a fallacy! Also bizarre is Sanjay's obsession with India's batting lineup, while completely ignoring its bowling problems! Reality 2: India's bowling is clearly its Achilles' heel! It's a slippery slope if the bowlers cannot take 20 wickets. Zaheer's ageing & nobody's replaced Kumble. Finding a core group of seamers/spinners/all-rounder is India's most pressing need - not VVS or SRT! Reality 3: Focus on NOW - NZ series! No point in "thinking of SA 2013"! It's too far away! Nothing is 100%. Except for the great VVS. Sanjay need not worry about him now. Happy, Sanjay?

  • on August 18, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    I agree with one thing. I think Gautam Gambhir should open with someone else like Ajinkya Rahane so build a future opening pair. Just like how Viru and Gauti's pair was made, it's time to make a new pair.

  • Naresh28 on August 18, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    ALL SENIOR EX_CRICKETERS SHOULD USE TACT WHEN DEALING WITH THESE AGED BATTING STARS. YES THEY WILL RETIRE VERY SOON. YOUR IMPATIENCE SHOWS A COMPLETE LACK OF UNDERSTANDING. LAXMAN WILL PLAY HIS LAST GAME IN ALL PROBABLITY ON HIS HOME GROUND. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK.

  • on August 18, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    Manjrekar forgot the fact that India won one Test during last SA Tour due to Laxman's heroics and just him...

  • Ranjan2012 on August 18, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    I like Sanjay Manjrekar's timely article, the issue of combating swininging , bouncy , seaming delivery in SA,AUs,England had been a problem for Indian batsman for ages.This is not something new.Sanjay's suggestion of exposing & blooding the new breed in the upcoming test series , will not going to solve the problem.Simply, because , these so called new blood are also not habituated in playing in the aforesaid conditions & do not have the required technique.We need some out of box thinking , why can't we pick a group of say 10 batsman whom we need in the next two yrs for playing test matches, the benchmark will be their technique, skill, ranji record, their adaptability to any situation/climate.These batsman will not be allowed to play any masala cricket,one day/T 20 cricket for atleast 2 yrs , they will be trained in SA,AUS,England.They will play local leagues there ,a batting consultant should be with them ( say Rahul Dravid) to fine tune their skill.

  • jango_moh on August 18, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    i like manjrekar, he's straight with his analysis, and i agree with him on most of his analysis... but the grade2/grade1 analogy is pretty far fetched.... currently every team except to an extent SA is comfy only in their own backyard or similar pitches... i would def try ajinkya rahane as an opener, drop sehwag down the order, and play suresh raina or pujara, but lets concentrate on trying to win at home first esp with a potentially younger team... manjrekar shud stop obsessing with winning abroad, first and foremost win at home(with youngsters ofcourse), and prepare for abroad...

  • Alexk400 on August 18, 2012, 3:52 GMT

    i want sachin and laxman retire before NZ test. But knowing saching he will never retire on his own. Because he knows nothing else to do except playing cricket. Thats only hobby he has it seems. Sehwag must bat after sachin. I also wants to bring back mukund. I find mukund is more mentally strong than other indian batsman. Rahane did pretty good in T20 but in Test opposition work out your weakness so i would not play rahane opening. I will play mukund open. SO my team is Gambhir , Mukund , Kohli , Sachin , Sehwag , Pujara/Rahane/Tiwari , Dhoni. Bowlers Ashwin/Ojha , Zaheer , Yadav. India need one Tall fast bowler for 11 th spot.

  • ansram on August 17, 2012, 19:46 GMT

    @Deadly_Dude - The 86 English side was not formidable bowling wise. Most of the English bowlers who bowled in that series did not play even 30 tests in their test career.

  • on August 17, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    Those who are questioning SRT's selection and thinking about please check stats against the people selected as well as not selected... I dont need to talk about potential of SRT over others

  • on August 17, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    @ Natx & Sahil youngsters are already getting foreign pitches experience by playing in A team and 2 spots 5 & 6 are open in test team where if they r good enough they can fit in. They r given extended run of over 20 inn like Rohit was given of 90 inn. If they perform better than seniors they are promoted up the batting order like Gambhir & Kohli in Tests..If in this way we find 4 batsmen better than Sachin for home & Foreign soil based on current form (i.e 20 inn) Sachin will & Should be dropped and that will be the strongest Batting line up India ever played as we will have 4 batsmen better than Sachin.....Unfortunately this is not the case despite 23 years Sachin is still the best overseas Indian test batsman on current form (see stats in my post below)....A batsman should neither retire nor be dropped until he is among bottom 2 batsmen which Sachin is not but Laxman is.................

  • Harmony111 on August 17, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    @Meety: You certainly seem impressed by what Manjrekar says here. Good for you, enjoy your awareness of the context. Any sportsperson will tell you that it is easier to play in some conditions than some other conditions. It is true in Tennis, it is true in F1, it is true in Golf, it is true in Luge. Only a stupid person would label his strength as Grade Two and his weakness as Grade One. It is one thing to know your flaws and work on improvement but it does not mean one needs to stop appreciating his strong points. Pete Sampras never won a French Open but would that mean that Sampras's 7 Wimbledon titles were Grade Two Titles? If you think they were Grade Two wins then please enjoy your contextual awareness than worrying what others grapple with. And one parting comment, the 2004 series win you talk of wasn't exactly Grade One. The Nagpur test was played in conditions similar to Oz and not Grade 1, Chennai Test was India's but for the rain. Enjoy this context too.

  • cricket-india on August 17, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    @ Sahil - why is SRT in the team??? think box office...

  • on August 17, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    Hey man, do you really think that making Tendulkar play till 2013 is a feasible idea ? Does India really want to defend the 2015 WC. I mean, after forcing out other seniors, Tendulkar needs to go. Why is Manjrekar always so supportive of Sachin ? What wrong has VVS done to warrant such a treatment that everyone in this universe is after his retirement.

    When Sanjay highlights VVS's failures, why does he not take into account the lean period which Sachin had from the World Cup till he managedthat elusive 100th ton against Bangladesh ?

  • jay_vkjay on August 17, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    Sachin Clarified the fuss about his retirement saying that, he has no plans to quit until he is 45,ie. 6 more years. So let's leave him and let him choose between series. However ,with this NZ series, India should say Laxman a Good Bye. Sehwag batting down the order at no.5 or no.6 is also seems like a good thinking. 1.Gambhir, 2.Rahane, 3.Virat, 4.Sachin 5. Sehwag, 6. Pujara 7.Dhoni, should be the batting order....

  • venkatesh018 on August 17, 2012, 5:40 GMT

    This is my TEST XI against New Zealand in the batting order: Gambhir, Mukund, Kohli, Sachin,Sehwag, Pujara, Dhoni, Ashwin, Ojha, Zaheer and Umesh Yadav. The rest of the squad will be Rohit Sharma, Wriddiman Saha, Laxmipathy Balaji(the most under-rated Test bowler in the country), Amit Mishra.

  • Meety on August 17, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    @Harmony111 - I know sometimes you grapple with the concept of context. The whole Grade 1 & 2 analogy was, for an INDIAN, playing tests at home is easier than playing abroad. Nothing to do with quality, & only indirectly to do with pitches etc. As many Indian fans claim that a spinner's greatest test is in India, a test for Indian players is to perform overseas. Atm, they are failing. During Steve Waugh's years, he labelled India as the final frontier, as homage to the fact Oz found it hard to win there. As Oz focussed on winning in India, we came 1 batting partnership away from winning in his time, & then followed up with a series win just after. This is what India need to do. Focuss on what is needed to win in foreign conditions.

  • Natx on August 17, 2012, 1:52 GMT

    Sachin buddy, time to go. What is that you have left after world cup win, being there with #1 test team, 100 tons. boatload of runs. Time to look from your MP seat and give chance to a youngster. We need young legs, no more veterans please. Ok, we will lose 4-0 and 3-0 everywhere with youngsters but it is no different than having the oldies in Eng and Aus last year. At least it will give them a chance to try out and learn. Go and chill off with IPL and marketing deals for few more years and you are good for few more generations!

  • Des_65 on August 17, 2012, 0:50 GMT

    Any player who plays better in home conditions may not play well abroad. Check Sanjay Manjrekar's statistics at home and away at http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/30934.html?class=1;template=results;type=batting Away looks better than home. Also more matches played abroad than at home.

  • spot_on on August 16, 2012, 23:09 GMT

    And what are these fellas doing in the comments section... Lol.. try properly holding a bat in the hand as a first thing, play a defensive stoke with bat and pad close together and block a ball from sneaking in and hitting the wickets.. Then come here, blog,comment, throw up criticism etc. God saves y'all.

  • Jose on August 16, 2012, 22:52 GMT

    @Sagar4545: Excelling in IPL is not a benchmark for Test selection.

  • on August 16, 2012, 22:49 GMT

    Considering Ind's recent non Asian foreign tours (Including SA, WI, Eng, Aus) Sehwag's avg 21 S/R 71 in 9 tests, Gambhir avg 29 S/R 39 in 9 tests, Laxman avg 29 S/R 47 in 14 tests (that also includes easy WI tour), Dravid avg 41 S/R 41 in 14 tests (that also includes easy Wi tour), Sachin avg 44 S/R 50 in 11 tests ……………….Clearly shows Sachin is the best Indian batsman followed by Dravid on non Asian conditions…………Sehwag's can rightly be called a flat track bully along with Laxman as Sehwag avg 44 & Lax avg 42 abroad………………Dravid & Sachin r India's overseas legends as Sachin away Avg 55, S/R 54 and Dravid, Avg 53 with S/R 42 with Sachin slightly ahead………..

  • Jose on August 16, 2012, 22:48 GMT

    1 poor series of Sehwag in Australia (Sehwag was not fully fit for Eng series)- Sanjay is asking him to go down the order. Yes Sehwag did mention that he would like to bat lower the order, but he also mentioned that he will do so when Sachin retires, as he wanted to bat at No.4. Moreover, the series in Australia was lost partly because internal struggle of the team esp. between Dhoni vs Senior players. It is strange that Sanjay hasn't mentioned about Dhoni's struggle in both England and Australia. Why Sanjay omitted Dhoni's lack of interest in Tests and suggest BCCI a new Captain. I also strongly agree that we should give more chances to youngsters, but not Rohit.

    What is the necessity of Sachin & Laxman playing against weak team like NZ? Can't they give youngsters a chance to play and learn?

  • on August 16, 2012, 21:52 GMT

    Folks-debating-grade-one-or-two, learn to read!!! Article said *FOR INDIANS*. Similarly, for England and Australia, the Subcontinent cricket is GRADE ONE. Its RELATIVE. The grades are in terms of the skills getting tested. For India the gap in skills gets tested in SA/Eng/Aus. LEARN TO READ. PLEASE.

  • on August 16, 2012, 21:32 GMT

    @Prashanth Kumar ...........u r right ..........he is talking only for Indian team and then his point is right

  • on August 16, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    @Shareef Sehuribas sorry mate......In SA RD & Viru badly failed yet Ind drew series 1-1 bcz SRT & Laxman performed.

  • on August 16, 2012, 20:51 GMT

    But we need to give credit where it is due. This selection committee has selected players that have won WC 2011 and brought Ind to No 1 spot in tests ……..Unnecessarily too much emphasis is being laid on winning outside Asia by fan as well as critics…………………..Eng hasn't even drawn a series in Asia recently and were clean swept by PK yet they still hold on to no 1 spot so the same way India can earn no 1 spot despite performing poorly outside Asia but for that they need to win more matches in Asia and that is possible by keeping fast scorers like Sehwag and Raina in team; positive declarations and enforcing follow on's ……….Dhoni I think is too negative a captain in Tests so he needs be replaced.....So why so much fuss about winning abroad when we can achieve same no 1 spot alternate way too!

  • on August 16, 2012, 20:37 GMT

    I totally agree with Sanjay on 1 point that that selections should be strategic rather than popular………..Aus had much better selectors so they didn't play Langer in ODI's despite being one of the best test openers (bcz he had limited on side strokeplay so opposition bowlers could bowl dots at him in ODI's)……… Beven & Lehman (v good ODI players) had third man glide as their favorite stroke which would have got them easily caught in the slips in tests so they didn't play them in tests …India lost lot of matches bcz of popular selections e.g. Dravid was no doubt a great in Test cricket and shared the same league as Tendulkar, Kallis, Lara, Ponting, Hayden (Hayden & Kallis I think were best) but in ODI's he was a burden on team yet he was persisted with for too long before they finally correctly dropped him……….Likewise Gangully was a great ODI player but a waste in tests yet he was persisted with in tests…Bhaji had done well in earlier part of his career but soon lost the cutting edge.

  • ProdigyA on August 16, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    Its laughable here that people are arguing over Grade A and B instead of looking at the bigger picture which is the bizare and illogical selection of the Indian team. Few good points made by Sanjay here about Sehwag and VVS who in my books should play the 1st test and that should be his last. Im surprised why Sanjay did not talk about MS, job security, i suppose :). MS has done nothing to warrant a place in the Test team. Before his fans go crazy, pls note that i think he is one of the all time greats for ODI and T20's but for Tests and absolute NO. Ofcourse, to win a test match you need to take 20 wickets. Am i talking about bowlers? God save us. Finally, Good riddence and Good bye Kris Srikanth, more than your selections your illogical excuses and blah blah are just unbearable. Maninder Singh is my man.

  • on August 16, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    First of all, the selection for the upcoming series against New Zealand has been near-perfect. Barring the selection of Chawla, and the non-selection of Irfan, everything looks good. Once you're past 35 in age and not scoring runs, everyone's going to be after your head. It doesn't even matter if you are a certain Sachin Tendulkar. Secondly, when time calls for, Laxman will definitely retire. He is as good as any player at home, and a class act. I don't mind him even playing against England in December this year, as long as he scores runs!!! For all I care, I would even let Sachin play till 41 or 42 if he is fit and in form. Of course youngsters are important and they should be given a chance, but if you're scoring runs and doing your job well, then there's no reason for you to retire. Dravid retired at a good time, when the young-guns were ready, so Laxman and Sachin also will retire at an appropriate time.

  • Deadly_Dude on August 16, 2012, 18:41 GMT

    Ansram, India under Kapil Dev's captaincy beat a very good England Test team 2-0 in 1986 in a 3 test series ...

  • SoverBerry2 on August 16, 2012, 17:15 GMT

    I know what will happen... This team will beat poor NewZealand team (if ICC doesnt forbid them from playing Test matches before the series) 2-0 and will get praises from all corners.. Krishnamachari Srikkanth is a hero... critics are zero...

  • on August 16, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    Disagree that Test Cricket in India is Grade 2. Agree it requires different skills than playing in Aus, SA and Eng. But that does not make it Grade 2. We have Pujara on the side along with Virat, I think they playing along with the likes of Sachin and Laxman will give them a lot of opportunities to pick their brains and hopefully get some good cricketing knowledge - preparation, mental aspects, plan an innings. Making wholesale changes with new comers will not help team India. It is a good team with a good mix of youngsters and the experienced. And BTW - don't see anyone else in the sidelines that deserves to be in the side.

  • ansram on August 16, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    BTW, when exactly was India an overseas lion to begin with? Have they ever beaten a top test side 2-0 away? They have usually lost heavily overseas, or fought out a grim draw and when the fab four were on song, eked out a 1-0 win. India have never dominated a good opponent in their backyard, never ever, even when they were no:1. This is never going to happen until India churns out sub 25 bowlers in the same manner other top sides do. When your best bowlers average 28-29 it is not a wonder that India rarely performs well abroad. Change that first. No amount of good batsmen are going to change our fortunes, BCCI should invest in bowling, if they are the richest board then they should do it if they are serious enough.

  • on August 16, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    @Harmony111 - Before you start your personal attacks on Sanjay, please read in full what he wrote - 'Test cricket at home for Indians, I have always believed, is grade two Test cricket'; The key point there is he mentioned for Indians it is grade two cricket! and that is completely true!

  • senthilshanmu on August 16, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    Whats this grade one and two... on your words India is grade two.. and you think SA,Aus and Eng are grade one. Of course grade two performs poorly in grade one conditions but grade one teams also performs very poorly in grade two.. that should not happen isn,t not.. According to me spin is also part of the game.. you should know to play spin too not only pace... many think playing spin is not an art.. thats why they grade it lower including our author, who is suppose to be a grade two player himself...

  • on August 16, 2012, 16:21 GMT

    If Laxman decides to retire then good. If Laxman decides to play and make runs then good.

    If Laxman decides to play and does not make run then NOT GOOD.

    Come on cut some slack we all know who will win us Test Series against Kiwis,English and the Kangroos. Certainly not Rohit Sharma. Come we are not playing against WI, Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.

  • kh1902 on August 16, 2012, 15:59 GMT

    Indian cricket is in a complete state of disrepair. Most things are wrong, from the BCCI's administration, selection processes, the wickets...the list goes on and on. The fact that we still "need" a 39 year old player who's on his last legs, is a sad reflection of the state of the game in India. I actually think Indian cricket would be better off without Sachin Tendulkar now. He still deserves his place in the team on merit, but the media is so fixated on him that noone else is held to account.

  • cricket-india on August 16, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    @REH : well said! we were always clinging on to the top ranking by the skins of our teeth (not that it's a bad thing - we fought back numnerous times from being 1-down in a test series; says a lot for our improved combativeness and competetiveness).

  • REH223 on August 16, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    "It's only on that tour that India can reclaim their lost aura as a Test team."....EXCUSE ME.....WHAT A BIG JOKE!!!! WHAT AURA ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT ? ONLY THE WI OF 1980'S AND AUS OF LAST DECADE CAN CLAIM THAT THEY ESTABLISHED THEIR OWN LEGACY........ THE INDIAN SIDE NEVER HAD AURA NOR THE CURRENT ENGLISH SIDE .......

  • cricket-india on August 16, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    for once i agree with manjrekar...vvs could've easily been persuaded to rest for the nz series and prepare for afinal crack atg home against eng and aus before retiring for good. raina/rohit could've played the nz series, with srt being retained for box office appeal.the batting order could've read rahane, gambhir, kohli, srt, viru, pujara. dhoni could've also rested and give parthiv/saha a look-in, with gambhir or viru captaining. zak should've been rested, ishant should've been asked to play first class cricket to show match fitness and the seamers could've been irfan and yadav, with the backups being vinay and aaron. dravid retired sportingly before the easy home series (who could've otherwise forced him to retire?) to let younger players settle down before the tougher overseas tour but srt and vvs don't have that grace. so the electors should've taken some hard calls; but of course, this was srikkanth's last rodeo before he goes back into oblivion so he'd rather play safe, right?

  • rahulcricket007 on August 16, 2012, 13:15 GMT

    I THINK LAXMAN SHOULD TAKE A LEAF OUT OF DRAVID 'S BOOK & TAKE RETIREMENT AFTER NZ SERIES . NEW SELECTORS SHOULD ASK ZAHEER & SACHIN ABOUT THEIR FUTURE INTENTIONS . ALSO I AGREE WITH THE FACT THAT SEHWAG SHOULD BE SEND IN MIDDLE ORDER . HE HAS OPENLY ADMIT IT MANYTIMES . ALSO A POOL OF FAST BOWLERS LIKE ISHANT , UMESH , DINDA , AARON SHOULD BE GROOMED FOR FUTURE .YOUNG BATSMEN LIKE PUJARA , RAHANE , SHOULD BE GIVEN CHANCES IN TEST TEAM SO THEY CAN GAIN SOME EXPERIENCE FOR SA 2013 TOUR .I BELIEVE THAT THEN WE CAN HAVE A CHANCE TO REGAIN OUR TEST STATUS .

  • Percy_Fender on August 16, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    Laxman would in the past have been able to hold his own in South Africa and Australia.I am not too sure now though.Sehwag did well on his first tour as an opener but has since lost his bearings at the top.Yet he could probably play lower in the order and do as well as expected. Gambhir and Tendulkar have done well there.Rahane,and Kohli have done well in age group and A tour games in South Africa and could rise to the occasion.Pujara is a gritty and thinking cricketer like Rahul Dravid.He is bound to succeed in South Africa because he would have made his own adjustments from his last tour there.Manish Pandey is worth a gamble.He could be a surprise after his ease playing in South Africa in IPL 2.Saha is a gutsy chap and must be in the team. Irfan Pathan is very comfortable playing fast bowling and should do well. The most important thing for the selectors to see is the defensive technique and the ease of playing the hooks, pulls and square cuts.This is where the NCA becomes crucial.

  • Percy_Fender on August 16, 2012, 11:57 GMT

    I fully agree with Sanjay the that South African tour is definitely redemption time. I say this despite my belief that every team has to be judged on their performance in each cricket playing country. It is ridiculous to downgrade cricket played in the sub continent countries. Cricket was never intended to be played in only in Australia,England and South Africa. This has become the benchmark only because these three countriess have been long at the top. So I would say that the Tests played at home or anywhere in the sub-continent cannot be brushed aside as being irrelevant.Having said that, it is not realistic to think that batsmen who have done brilliantly at home will do likewise on tour to these three countries. You require a different set of skills. This is where the selectors have to be very judicious. Having a good defence of either foot is a non-negotaiable to play anywhere.Players like Amarnath Dravid, Tendulkar,Vishwanath and Gavaskar had very good defending techniques. contd.

  • A.Ak on August 16, 2012, 11:32 GMT

    Too much focus on RSharma and Pujara. Both never really shown consistency, both with form and one with fitness already. Mukund is still amongst the top scorers in the past few years, so does Badrinath and Rahane. Kholi, Rahane and Mukund exiting young talents, with Badri who could provide what Dravid (alone) did for India.

  • Harmony111 on August 16, 2012, 11:32 GMT

    I do agree that VVS should have been dropped right after the Eng tour but I find it shocking to see Manjrekar saying that Tests in India are grade Two and tests in Eng, Aus, SA are Grade One. I never rated Manjrekar too highly as a player and never thought he was too impressive as a commentator, but now, he shows he needs a lot of correction as far as common cricket sense and cricket aptitude goes. Manjrekar needs to explain if Tests in India are Grade Two then why have the Eng not won here since 1984 and why have Aus lost their last two series here? The only one they have won since 1970s was in 2004 when a BCCI-Vidarbha conflict meant the wickte was more suited to Aus than to India. I wonder why these teams so much used to Grade One Tests at their homes fail so badly in India's Grade Two Tests? I am sure I am not the only one shocked by this kind of self-patronizing thinking of Mr. Manjrekar.

  • kunderanengineer on August 16, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    I agree with most of what Mr.Manjrekar says in his article especially the idea of moving Sehwag down the order and having Gambhir open with Rahane however I disagree with his terminology with respect to Grade1 and Grade 2 cricket. It's one thing to say that India like any other country should value foreign victories as much as home wins but another to say that playing in India represents Grade 2 cricket as opposed to playing in England Aust. and SA. Can you imagine an English reporter saying that playing at Lords is Grade 2 stuff compared to playing at Wankhede just because England has a lousy record in India? Is winning at Roland Garros Grade 2 compared to winning at Wimbledon or US Open just because the pitch is slower? Not if you asked a French person. The point is that to be considered a great team you have to be able to win on all pitches just as the great Aussie and Windies teams from the past. Enough of this Grade 1 and Grade 2 stuff please!

  • satish619chandar on August 16, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    Grade 1 and Grade 2 is just ridiculous.. If the subcontinent starts producing dust bowls and load teams with 4 spinners, can atleast one team stand in front of us? Almost every team has one or two good spinners but subcontinent's badspinner will be equal to them(apart from Warne).. If Australia tests batters by assisting bowlers, the same in SC where it tests bowlers assisting batsmen.. If we blame the SC batters to be poor outside our forte, the same stands for the "grade 1" pace bowlers when they come to SC.. After all, it is test cricket.. Everyone need to be tested..

  • jasonpete on August 16, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    Posted by Haleos on (August 16 2012, 10:55 AM GMT), mukund and vijay got selected only when sehwag got injured and once he returned,they both were dropped.Whereas rohit sharma is selected by Srikanth all the time by Mumbai lobby orders even though he fail everytime.Time to remove the overrated rohit from Indian team and let him play domestic cricket just like other guys or even IPL.There are many young talented guys waiting to be picked for team ,instead this shrikant always pick overrated rohit everytime.

  • satish619chandar on August 16, 2012, 11:16 GMT

    @MattyP1979 : India has decent bowlers but they need to be in proper frame of mind and fitter.. The likes of RP, Ishant, Irfan, Sreesanth and Zak have won games for India in England, Australia and South Africa.. But they haven't stayed fit and bowled consistent for long enough periods to maintain supremacy.. It all depends on how good they stay..

  • yescric on August 16, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    The whole selection is a Joke.... and for people asking for Saha come on Team India tan do better.... Dhoni is still the best available out there... as a back up keeper yes Saha is an option but don't expect MSD to miss a test in the middle of the series or don't even entertain the thought of playing both MSD(as a specialist batsman at test level) and Saha which will be ridiculous... So MSD will keep everyother keeper out as long as he is fit and willing to play... look at Gilchrist, Healy and Boucher for reference....

  • satish619chandar on August 16, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    If Sachin, VVS and Dravid would have gone in same stretch, we could be like Aussies where both Warne and Glenn went out in same time and the likes of Langer, Hayden, Martyn went out at the same time.. Better they go with a couple of series between them and groom the young guns.. KT will always take its time.. May be, Viru coming down will get things could be tried.. To think of SA tour in 2013 now itself would be too early.. Irrepective of how many series they play in home, it will be tough in SA.. No harm in letting the youngsters stay in the team and learn the attitude from the senior pro's..

  • satish619chandar on August 16, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    @Haleos : Yes the likes of Vijay and Mukund got chance but that was because the main openers were injured and there was a vacancy.. They didn't use it and were pushed away.. Rohit unfortunately was a middle order bat and had to wait for his turn which didn't happen.. Rohit didn't do justice to his chances.. Had he scored even in one game in SL, he could have been in this squad - given the confidence the team showed on him.. It is entirely his fault on not responding to the chances he got..

  • Haleos on August 16, 2012, 10:55 GMT

    @ JustOUT - Rohit is best suiteed for tests. But Shrikanth tried to push in TN players like overrated Vijay and Mukund in the teams. Mukund was atleast young and could have learned a lot but then is nowhere now.

  • Haleos on August 16, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    @ deepak_sholapurkar - Dravid was hardly selfless. None of the Indian players are. He continued playing knowing well his days were over. Same as VVS he was a huge laibility in the field. Both are poor runners as well and do not take enough singles. They play at less than a strike rate of 40 which puts enormous pressure on others. No wonder we did not win in England even when Dravid scored all those runs.

  • Haleos on August 16, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    @Kushgara - Sanjay mentioned this last year so yes VVS was not in form even a year back. Playing at home with massive support from tailenders can not be termed as in-form. He does not even play ranji regulalrly so how can we ssay he is in form. His fitness is pathetic and he lacks work ethic as he can not even be fitter than tendulkar.

  • Haleos on August 16, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    VVS should retire with dignity after this series. He is a big big liability on the field. People say he has taken so many catches. lately he has dropped many crucial ones as well. He was a good player, never a great one like Rahul, Sachin or even dada. Why has team management persisted with him is a mystery.

  • on August 16, 2012, 10:30 GMT

    It is time to put a new opening combination and Sehwag can bat in the middle order, time to bid farewell to Laxman after two tests, so that Pujara, Rahane, can be get enough opportunitities, then comes, MSDhoni, Wriddiman Saha was a better wicketkeeper and batsman in Australia, MSD is no more interested to play tests in outside subcontinent, why Wriddiman Saha will give more chances, let Dhoni more concentrate on ODI & T20s, Gambhir or Sehwag can become the captains...no vision, just fusion, that is BCCI & its loyal servant, Mr.Krishnamachari Srikanth...the only thing he has done that he has tried to give some chances to Badrinath....

  • on August 16, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    Very good article, eye-opening, but this will go into deaf ears...

  • Rahul_Paharia on August 16, 2012, 9:54 GMT

    By the same logic England should be playing 2 spinners in the current test against South Africa, as their record in the subcontinent is as poor is India's is in overseas tests. It does not work this way. You have to live in the present and select the best possible team to help you win the next match.

  • deepak_sholapurkar on August 16, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    All these players will play upto 2013 and blast all the opponents and retire as great players. when need to travel is required they will announce the retirement.(Sachin, Laxman, Sehwag etc) Dhoni already indicated the same by saying due to workload he has to think of quitting one form of cricket. In india only one selfless player was there that is Dravid, he sportingly retired before the easy matches and allowed the younger one a position.

  • g.narsimha on August 16, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    What do u mean by grade no1 in AUS, ENG, SA & grade -2 at our place international cricket is more fallowed in our region than those gr-1 places ,if we failed in those places they are also equally worse in this region example- ENG - could not do any thing noteasble in the last last 20 years ,white washed in ind 5-0 in odis immidiatly after home heroics , 3-0 in uae, struggled in sl , aus lost 2-0 last time they visited , is it that only we are required to win at those places to be counted , than what about these teams , they are also pathetic in this part of the world than MR -MANJREKAR if our home wins doesnt count than how could their home wins are great , u sound as if we never won any thing at those places , it rationale thinking to put those teams performane at our place at same perceptoctive that of ours at thier place , we agree that we must build an all weather team , but our problem is bowling , last time it was bowlers who failed us primerily , u r target is LAXAMAN

  • on August 16, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    i disagree.. would your opinion be same if u were writing this article one year back when VVS was in top form? i guess he was th hero of the last Ind-Sa tour .. i still feel VVS has 2 more years of good cricket left in him. And i feel in this New Zealand series, two youngster, kohli included,will get a great experience at test level.. i feel Pujara can seal his place here. And i don't feel Sehwag should bat in the middle order before Sachin retires.. Yuvraj is coming back for sure ... :) !!

  • India_boy on August 16, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    contd...and kohli as 3rd down.Laxman as 4th down and develop a good genuine spin all rounder like Ashwin. Pathan is also getting his zing back so may be he can be used in swinging conditions in Eng and he can bat well too. Solutions are there we are just not willing to look at them.

  • India_boy on August 16, 2012, 9:19 GMT

    I think we need to adopt Horses for Courses selection policy, make a team of 16 people and rotate them as per the ground conditions(that includes Indian grounds as well). This is the only way to have a team ready for all kinds of conditions. More than the batting, its the bowling that should worry us to no end. ZK is as good as history, Sharma belies confidence and Yadav and Aaron are still kids. Vinay and Dinda are not good for club cricket. They must select a team keeping in mind the next 10 years and persist with them for at least next 3 years. Keeping that in mind, my squad of 16 would be Rahane, gambhir, Sehwag, Kohli, SRT, Laxman, MSD(no other choice), Rohit (at least some chance), Pujara, Ishant, ZK, Yadav, Aaron, Bhajji(experience), Ashwin and Rahul Sharma. VS, SRT and VVS should be there for experience and at any given time only 2 of them should play overseas.GG should be made vice captain in both test and ODI.Rahane should be persisted as an opener,Pujara as one down.contd..

  • no.1_multicultural_team on August 16, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    Grade 1 and Grade 2 Cricket? If playing at home and winning is grade 2 cricket then every nation plays half of their cricket as grade 2 cricket. It is strange that Indians continue to fall in the 'flat track'' myth and all that nonsense that subcontinent wickets are batting wickets.If that was the case,why green track greats (?) fail miserably in subcontinent? Why only one Green track team made to semis in WC? Fact is it requires even more skill to bat on low slow turning pitches,but Inidans undervalue it becuase they are so talented in playing in those conditions.Ask any Eng player to chose to bat on a turner or bat on a wet bouncy green track,you will know the answer.

  • AdityaUpadhyay on August 16, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    Calling test cricket in India Grade 2 is utter disgrace to Indian cricket. Atleast I didnt expect this from an Indian cricketer especially someone like Sanjay who is so rational & open in his analysis. IF our cricket is Grade 2, why do teams barring SA struggle to win Test series here? SL is yet to win a test match here. Regarding selection, inclusion of Harbhajan & Piyush has just reaffrimed Mohinder Amarnath's statement that selector are bunch of jokers. What Harbhajn or Piyush have done ? Are we in such paucity of good spinners in even Indian condtions that we have to look upon proven failed performers ? Selectors have just taken their last selection as a job to complete . In turn , leaving cricket sense to shambles

  • rajnish.sinha on August 16, 2012, 8:59 GMT

    i agree that we need to push in batsmen who have the potential to perform overseas even if it means denying someone a chance at home who we think may score a little more runs at home but fail drastically abroad. and not just for 2013 winter but as a general policy. we play 10 tests this year at home and i have no doubt rohit, virat, raina, pujara etc they all will do good and yet i am sure it will prove nothing about what they can do overseas. and this has been happening since i am watching cricket and yet never once have we tried something to stop this. definitely time for VVS to go sometime this season. rahane as an opener will also be a risk because he doesnot open in ranji also. opening in limited overs is entirely different from opening in tests. and sehwag should also come down at 5. may be some other opener. however we cannot do anything if we dont find batsmen who can play overseas.

  • CoolCharlie on August 16, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    this selection is absolutely rubbish. seriously i agree with sanjay that india missed its chance to let rohit or whosoever play last test in australia. india only lost and gaines nothin. it simply infuriates me to see this stupid senseless selection as i would put it. now for gods sake when is laxman gonna retire? havnt we seen enough ? we need to build for the future. exposure to test cricket is must for our youngsters. tym has come to hangup boots Mr. Laxman. and what is piyush chawla is in for? and why keep saha out. these selections only baffle me. if thynga are lyk this we will only witness more whitewashes. in india laxman and sehwags all are gonna score runs. but they willl find themselves wanting outside the continent. and its useless to talk about balling. to sum up its absolutely STUPID and BASELESS selection .looks lyk selectors had some other job to do so they jss put up some random names which came into their mind , jss any 15-16 names.

  • on August 16, 2012, 8:18 GMT

    There are many other issues which one need to discuss :- 1. The issue of captaincy - After loosing 8 overseas test do we think that Dhoni is good as a captain 2. Exclusion of Rohit & inclusion of Raina :-In the last test against Aus Dhoni decided to play with VVS instead of Rohit ( He was denied a test spot all the time, he is there for the future) 3. The tour of WI in 2011 after WC :- The selectors had sent a team minus Tendulkar & we had seen what happened to that team as well, the youngsters given chance failed to grab the opportunity that time 4. Inclusion of Laxman :- Its said that Laxman will get enough runs in home conditions, the same thing applies to youngsters as well, i believe anyone given a chance (especially raina,kohli) in these conditions can get runs & it has nothing to do with 2013 5. Future tour of SA 2013 :- Thats still too far, we need not to be that much futuristic, our first need is to fill the void created by Dravid's retirement 5.Need of a quality spinner.

  • mehulmatrix on August 16, 2012, 8:11 GMT

    @mad- I agree with you. Dravid is a very sensitive person and so realized its time to give youngsters their due. @suku- I guess you don't know the amount of revenue that's pumped in Indian Cricket. BCCI/Players have huge endorsements and there's also their favorite IPL. Getting so much money and such disastrous results in tests is acceptable??Also no players have complained about the schedule,fatigue. If they feel that they need rest, they can always skip IPL, but who will leave the big bucks? Test cricket is the ultimate and all of them are responsible for it. Its not like Hockey in which we did really bad, as the facilities and revenue given is no where close to that in cricket.

    How does Raina come in?? Really whimsical. Also guys like Ishant have again faded away after the promising start. Fame, money catching up them? Or they are not learning/picking things along? Also not fit enough in long run? Indian fast bowling has had this trend since a long time.

  • on August 16, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    Playing in India is Grade 2, i guess you should ask England, and others, they struggle here. The point is not about grade 1 or grade 2 cricket. Everyone is comfortable playing at home. So is India, so no wrong in it. Selectors might have been wrong in selecting a few, but moreover its fine. VVS should be given only chance against NZ, if he fails, Ajinka should open and sehwag should bat down. Till then its fine.

  • Dhanvanth on August 16, 2012, 8:04 GMT

    In my point of view, the next selection comittee has to foresee the future of Team India atleast for the future test side... sachin has still got some years in him...first of all VVS should be dropped and sehwag should go down the order..rahane and gambhir should open.. as far as the middle order s concerned, no.3 spot s for pujara and kohli can continue as no.6 batsman..in the bowling dept., ishant and varun aoran should support zaheer.. ashwin is and should always be the hod for spin..he s a match-winner and wicket-taker...there s no use winning at home when u get consecutive white-washes abroad...series-wins in Aus, SA and Eng should be the goal for the future...so my order for the Test side atleast for 2 yrs ll be: gambhir & rahane(openers), pujara(no.3), sachin(no.4), kohli(no.5), sehwag(no.6), dhoni(7), ashwin(8), zaheer(9), ishant(10), varun aoran/praveen kumar(11)... varun has got swing and pace.. he ll be useful in Oz,Eng and SA....but this might turn deafears to probably!!!

  • venkatesh018 on August 16, 2012, 7:43 GMT

    Raina and Piyush Chawla for Tests and no place for Wriddhiman Saha and Awana even in the A Team? Balaji for T20 instead of being third seamer in Test matches? You have played a cruel joke on us, Cheeka...!

  • on August 16, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    Sending Viru down the order is not a bad idea. Most of the people forget one thing Viru was not a specialist opening batsman and he was forced to open an innings due to most of our stalwarts not ready to open an innings at when they toured to Australia. Viru got some considerable success no one deny that he won more test matches for us than anyone else. Unfortunately he didn't click in the last two series it impacted us more. Our middle order not flap first time during last two series, it was not good for last four years it is covered most of the time by individual performances. We lost lanka series by 2-1 only viru and GG scored some runs and SRT failed drastically by throughout the series till end of the tour he doesn't have any clue at all against Mendis. If SRT and VVS failed in any series it is not impacted more when RD and Viru failed means it makes big impact, and we will clearly visualize by the upcoming series without RD.

  • on August 16, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    @Dushyant Singh. They show thier "offensive" nature, if you ask them uncomfortable questions, in post-selection press conferences.

  • Fan1969 on August 16, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    I do not agree with Sanjay.

    With Dravid retired, focus should be on No.3. Why disturb Sehwag? I would expect the in form batsman Virat to volunteer to take up No.3 slot and if not then let Pujara/Rahane.

    Raina has played well but should also have been sent to WI as part of India "A" team.

    Laxman is at the end of his Career. Easy to blame the selectors. Laxman has been a veteran and a HUGE PERFORMER in difficult times. To assume no conversation has taken place with Laxman and selectors is Naive at best. We have to wait and see.

    Rohit cannot be selected after his recent performance. Selectors have been kind by still giving him a T20 WC slot. If he plays badly, all his fans may see his TEST career finished prematurely. Gain some form before playing the first test.

    The only one I am stumped with is Piyush Chawla in both teams. Why no other spinner is being tried even if Rahul Sharma had to be dropped for "non" cricketing reasons. If Ashwin is injured, who will u play?

  • SAGAR4545 on August 16, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    what selectors are thinking??? Rahane was outstanding during IPL-5 but not selected in T20 WC, Rohit playing very well in Ranji Trophy for years but yet to make Test debut...

  • on August 16, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    @Sandman5five. Your comments remind me of the actions of many a CEO of Indian Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), just before they finish their terms, and some one else is going to take over the reins. I worked for a few of them, before I switched to one of the IIM's to teach. (Does that mean Srikkant would make a good CEO of one of the PSUs where to positions are lying vacant for some time -- don't ask me!)

  • on August 16, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    Grade 2 selectors will always select a Grade 2 team to play Grade 2 Test series. Grade 2 Experts / commentators has no voice in these matters, except writing occasional columns and earning some moolah! Such commentators turns out to be just Grade 2 Administrators, if they are given a chance! I don't want to name names; but even Grade 1 players turned to to be Grade 2 Administrators and selectors (and of course Grade 2 "expert commentators"!

  • on August 16, 2012, 6:42 GMT

    I wish India all the best, especially on the next tour of South Africa. If they have to play on fast hard pitches after having played on dirt tracks in India, there is no chance of gaining any ground. They need to play and practice on fast tracks soon after the NZ tour of India; even play competitive cricket on fast tracks that could be found in some high lying places in India.The selectors should think hard and look out for these tracks. It is high time that we start doing the right thing or else do not play international cricket.

  • india_rulzz on August 16, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    Well Sanjay, Below listed would be my playing eleven for the First Test Against NZ in Batting Order. Gambhir Rahane Laxman Tendulkar Sehwag Kohli Dhoni Ashwin Chawla Zaheer Ishant

    Effectively ease out VVS and put Pujara at 3. Eye on the Future ????????????? What say.

  • sukuviju on August 16, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    No one has anything good to say about our selectors. If they are all so bad, how did we discover talents like sachin, sehwag, dravid, ganguly, gambhir, dhoni, laxman, harbachan, zaheer, umesh yadav etc. Not all of them succeeded from day one, some were given a long rope and eventually they succeeded while others like jadeja, rohit sharma, yusuf pathan etc failed. In any team at least 11 out of the 15 select themselves, all the heat is over the last 4 spots to be filled and every expert will have his own argument on who should have been selected. India failed in England because the series came after too much of cricket - the high on drama South africa series, the highly emotional World cup journey , the tiring IPL and the unnecessary West Indian tour. That tour dented the confidence level of the team so badly that we could see the effect on the Australian tour. Indian team is good and if handled well will definitely deliver. Their bowling is weak but Indian bowling had always been weak.

  • maddinson on August 16, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    I am sure had Dravid not retired himself India would've played the same squad that lost 4-0 being the only difference would be additional spinner instead of a pace bowler.

  • on August 16, 2012, 6:17 GMT

    To say that Indian selectors and the BCCI are myopic would be an more than an understatement. VVS Laxman, despite what he has done for Indian Cricket should have been told we are moving on. They can do this to VVS but no one and this includes the most influential BCCI officia won't do this to Sachin Tendulkar and I agree we need Sachin for the SAF series because he not only looked fitter but he looked hungry in Australia despite the losses and his 100th century issue. What is very hard to understand is why Rohit Sharma is retained in T20 squad despite his poor form and dropped for Test Series. Drop him for both and let him get some form and confidence back. While Opening batsmen continue to give headaches what about fast bowlers? Zaheer Khan won't last till SAF series in 2013, who is going to lead the attack, is there a plan? has there been a thought. Needless to say all these issues will be swept under the carpet because there is a strong possibility India will do well at home.

  • Humdingers on August 16, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    Great insight once again. I completely agree the shortsightedness in Australia as well as the what Srikkanth has done. But then again, what selection committee has there ever been that (in India or outside for that matter) ever got it absolutely right each time? A little unfair to consider Indian test conditions as being Grade 2 - if it were all foreign players coming in would be filling their boots as well - right? Home advantage is what makes Test cricket exciting. And if you are good enough (like the Windies or Aussies of yester-year) then you can still win in all conditions.

  • Sunilgopalachari on August 16, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    Sanjay and Aakash in their post have nailed it right, Being one of the powerful cricket associations BCCI can do a lot, the administration team should take a leaf from how KSCA led by Kumble is doing to improve infrastructure and create a competitive atomosphere at grass root level. I think getting BCCI under RTI is only way to get answers to the questions raised over selections. Getting our A team to play matches in place like Dharamshala should get them a feel of how the pitches would be in England or SA. Money would flow to BCCI kitty as long as India team is performing, "Indian Cricket team" is in itself a brand, and one need not pick a team just based on name and not performace to get more money flowing in.. In due course cricket is taking a beating.... Hope to see some good performances from Indian team in whites

  • Sandman5five on August 16, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    South Africa 2013 is not this (outgoing) selection panel's headache. And that is exactly how they have played the situation.

  • on August 16, 2012, 5:41 GMT

    Ever since they were installed this bunch of selectors have shown little purpose for building the team Pllayers of potential should have been steadily inducted and nurtured knowing the huge gap between domestic and International level them .Srikanth's intentions to favor players from Chennai starting with Dinesh Karthick and ending with Vijay fell flat Laxman should have been told at the end of the last series to step down or else With belated attention to building a strong India A and a bench which can challenge the core team, the cupboard three years from now is going to be bare With all the money they have the Board too has shown no vision other than a desire to make even more money on the shorter versions

  • on August 16, 2012, 5:10 GMT

    Indian selectors never give any thought on the long term prospective for Indian Cricket. They only select the players as if team has some sort of urgency but not to make a good international team which can play on any soil in any circumstances the way Australains and South Africans do. By such kind of selection, we can win lots of series at home but we can never be champions who can win at any land. Dear Selecters be offensive now and change the habbit of being defensive.

  • SamRoy on August 16, 2012, 5:08 GMT

    I have stated it many forums. I will state in again. If anyone has hurt Indian Test Cricket the most in the last 3-4 years, it has been Kris Srikkanth. A person with a complete lack of vision. In the last series against Bangladesh and the last home series against NZ, there was a golden opportunity to try out promising youngsters. But no, he didn't even venture into it. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane can become world-class batsmen not by playing meaningless ODI series in Sri Lanka but rather playing county cricket in England. Even Suresh Raina has a decent chance of being a good test batsman provided he roots out his problems against the short ball but it will not happen if you play limited overs cricket in the sub-continent.

  • indiasupbangalore on August 16, 2012, 5:05 GMT

    sanjay other than pujara, rahane, rohit who else is the future of indian test cricket who can replace sachin, schewag, vvs, I hardly know anybody, the latest performance of india A against WI A was'nt all that great.

  • sk12 on August 16, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    Except for sticking with Piyush Chwla (pretty sure there were other forces behind this, maybe the captain himself?), Srikkanth has done pretty well during his tenure. Its upto the team management to pick the final 11, lets see if they drop Laxman for any youngster.

  • sony_sr on August 16, 2012, 4:56 GMT

    Lakshman is not be a gamble in SA. He is a guaranteed failure in SA. Another thing I can guarantee is if selected, he will perform well in all matches in India.

  • on August 16, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    Krish srikkanth has effectively reversed all gains of the past few years achieved by more and vengsargar.

    He should have been sacked after the disastrous tour of england and australia. Even giving out the VC to kohli after a performance against srilanka has not been questioned.

    On the one hand he has stuck gleefully to experienced batters , but on the other he has not allowed bowlers and youngsters to gain experience. Has even handed india caps based on performance in the IPL. relegating ranji performance to the dustbin. Only good decision taken was to drop harbhajan.

    To sum up the thought process of the last 3 chairmen of selectors More thought two- three years ahead. Vengsargar one year ahead. Srikkanth thinks about changing results decided 2 years ago.

  • on August 16, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    I think the selectors should have looked at established domestic batsmen like Badrinath, Kaif, and even Jaffer. Youth is not the answer to all the problems India face. The ground fielding may improve. But the slip catching will suffer. Add to that the fact that these younger guys will need a lot of time to build up their mental strength and character which is the primary requirement in test batting. I don't think it is a wrong ploy to bring in guys who are in their 30s only because they will serve for fewer years compared to someone who is in their 20s. If a guy can come in and start performing in a matter of 2-3 matches, then its all we need. Not every player is able to handle the pressures of international cricket at the age of 21-25. It will take time and the Indian team doesn't have that kind of time. Once Zaheer and Sachin leave, it will leave even bigger holes to fill. Badrinath , Jaffer, Kaif, Bist. Tight, compact and defensive batsmen are the way to go I feel.

  • karthik666 on August 16, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    Very easy to comment any selection as poor .. That is all we all can do always

  • on August 16, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    More than India's senior batsmen ageing fast in the last couple of years, it looks like Srikkanth's brain has aged faster and is now senile! What he has done is now passed the buck on to the next selection committee which will be headed by Mohinder Amarnath. It makes no sense to select Laxman! The only possible and reasonable explanation for his selection is that he deserves a good send-off and so since the first test against NZ is going to be played in Hyderabad, it will be good to bid adieu to him right there.

  • MysticMan on August 16, 2012, 4:26 GMT

    Great article, Sanjay. I do not understand why Laxman wants to still continue playing... He has a great Test record and we as a nation will always remember and cherish his 281 at Eden Gardens. If we just heeded to 50% of Ian Chappell's prescient observations, we would be 50% ahead! I still am unable to understand why our famed batting lineup could not adjust to the fuller length bowled in Australia! Were they afraid that by standing a foot outside the crease, they will not have the time to react? Same with how deep they stood in the slips! It looked more like distance chosen based on the reaction time than the bounce on the wicket! On the whole, I think the selectors (and BCCI) think that Indians do not care how poorly they perform in Tests. I cannot give any other explanation...

  • theswami on August 16, 2012, 4:24 GMT

    Laxman will only be 38 come SA 2013. Its time Tendulkar packed his bags ... Manjrekar has shown consideration to his fellow Mumbai-kar and kinsman ... How long he had to wait for that elusive 100th until he got punching bags Bangladesh ... what was his average , not something infinitely better than Very Very SUper's ..

  • vrn59 on August 16, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    This is a very good article. Laxman was a great batsman, but he is too old now and must retire after the New Zealand series. Virat Kohli, Chestashwar Pujara and even Rohit Sharma, despite his poor ODI series in Sri Lanka, must be given extended runs at Test level. Sehwag must step up and perform like he used to four years ago, when he scored his last overseas Test century, or be pushed down the order. Gambhir must be given more chances as an opener because he has the right temperament and frankly, we don't have that many options. Rahane is a good player and must be tried out too. India still need to worry more about their bowling as neither Harbhajan nor Ashwin are world-class at the moment and India will need at least one of them in peak form in SA. I don't know if Zaheer's body will allow him to last that long but I hope so. Meanwhile, Yadav and Aaron need to mature as bowlers: raw pace is just one factor in a bowler's armory and Ishant Sharma has to get his game right too.

  • merajaan on August 16, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    Finally someone has pointed out the bizarre selection of Laxman ahead of players like Rahane and Rohit Sharma - players who still deserve a proper run in tests. Dropping Sehwag down to the middle order and going with Gambhir and Rahane as the openers makes real sense yet the current selection panel seems to gutless to make that call. It's funny how the selectors have completely disregarded the 8 straight losses overseas and just went with the same formula. If Laxman really wanted to stay in the test side then he should have done something about his fitness which is currently an embarrassment. I am glad that Pujara is in the side though but feel for Badrinath at the same time

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 16, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    If India tour SA in 2013 then I cannot see anything but defeats for team India. This is because the Indian selectors have committed the same mistakes OVER and OVER again. What really disturbs me as an Indian supporter is that these guys don't even regret on losing 8-0 in away tests. Even some of the Indian supporters are blind in their mindless praise of the team. This welcomes taunting comments from people of other nations. It's time India start picking teams on merit rather than legacy. HOW LONG will Mr. Tendulkar play for India ? It's coming to a point where Mr. Tendulkar could be liable to become a laughing stock. His time is over. Even Sehwag is unworthy to play outside India. It's time the test team is built around Dhoni and the youngsters, including Rohit Sharma. Our bowling looks weak. We need REAL fast bowlers with pace and control. We cannot rely on Zaheer Khan any more. We also need good spinners barring Ashwin. So many questions with very few answers for India.

  • MattyP1979 on August 16, 2012, 3:46 GMT

    I find it curious with such a large population and really only 1 sport that Ind cannot find 4 bowlers of test status. Before thinking of the tests abroad they should be concerned about tests at home..No doubt the same people who thought Ind were going to thrash Eng in Eng think they will now beat them in Ind. Eng don't have a good record in Ind, but we didn't have a good record at home 27 years ago either, the teams have changed and if Eng go to Ind with the best 2 spinners Ind could struggle.

  • JustOUT on August 16, 2012, 3:39 GMT

    Well.. Apart from Sachin, Sehwag & Gambhir (Laxman will hv retired by Nov 2013), I foresee a very fragile batters in the India test team. Even worse is Fast bowling department. I do not expect Zaheer khan to lead the bowling dept during 2013 SA tour. It looks like, it will be 3-0 Whitewash for India and also will be a learning curve for the youngsters. But Rohits & Rainas in the TEst team.. full of jokes

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  • JustOUT on August 16, 2012, 3:39 GMT

    Well.. Apart from Sachin, Sehwag & Gambhir (Laxman will hv retired by Nov 2013), I foresee a very fragile batters in the India test team. Even worse is Fast bowling department. I do not expect Zaheer khan to lead the bowling dept during 2013 SA tour. It looks like, it will be 3-0 Whitewash for India and also will be a learning curve for the youngsters. But Rohits & Rainas in the TEst team.. full of jokes

  • MattyP1979 on August 16, 2012, 3:46 GMT

    I find it curious with such a large population and really only 1 sport that Ind cannot find 4 bowlers of test status. Before thinking of the tests abroad they should be concerned about tests at home..No doubt the same people who thought Ind were going to thrash Eng in Eng think they will now beat them in Ind. Eng don't have a good record in Ind, but we didn't have a good record at home 27 years ago either, the teams have changed and if Eng go to Ind with the best 2 spinners Ind could struggle.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 16, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    If India tour SA in 2013 then I cannot see anything but defeats for team India. This is because the Indian selectors have committed the same mistakes OVER and OVER again. What really disturbs me as an Indian supporter is that these guys don't even regret on losing 8-0 in away tests. Even some of the Indian supporters are blind in their mindless praise of the team. This welcomes taunting comments from people of other nations. It's time India start picking teams on merit rather than legacy. HOW LONG will Mr. Tendulkar play for India ? It's coming to a point where Mr. Tendulkar could be liable to become a laughing stock. His time is over. Even Sehwag is unworthy to play outside India. It's time the test team is built around Dhoni and the youngsters, including Rohit Sharma. Our bowling looks weak. We need REAL fast bowlers with pace and control. We cannot rely on Zaheer Khan any more. We also need good spinners barring Ashwin. So many questions with very few answers for India.

  • merajaan on August 16, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    Finally someone has pointed out the bizarre selection of Laxman ahead of players like Rahane and Rohit Sharma - players who still deserve a proper run in tests. Dropping Sehwag down to the middle order and going with Gambhir and Rahane as the openers makes real sense yet the current selection panel seems to gutless to make that call. It's funny how the selectors have completely disregarded the 8 straight losses overseas and just went with the same formula. If Laxman really wanted to stay in the test side then he should have done something about his fitness which is currently an embarrassment. I am glad that Pujara is in the side though but feel for Badrinath at the same time

  • vrn59 on August 16, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    This is a very good article. Laxman was a great batsman, but he is too old now and must retire after the New Zealand series. Virat Kohli, Chestashwar Pujara and even Rohit Sharma, despite his poor ODI series in Sri Lanka, must be given extended runs at Test level. Sehwag must step up and perform like he used to four years ago, when he scored his last overseas Test century, or be pushed down the order. Gambhir must be given more chances as an opener because he has the right temperament and frankly, we don't have that many options. Rahane is a good player and must be tried out too. India still need to worry more about their bowling as neither Harbhajan nor Ashwin are world-class at the moment and India will need at least one of them in peak form in SA. I don't know if Zaheer's body will allow him to last that long but I hope so. Meanwhile, Yadav and Aaron need to mature as bowlers: raw pace is just one factor in a bowler's armory and Ishant Sharma has to get his game right too.

  • theswami on August 16, 2012, 4:24 GMT

    Laxman will only be 38 come SA 2013. Its time Tendulkar packed his bags ... Manjrekar has shown consideration to his fellow Mumbai-kar and kinsman ... How long he had to wait for that elusive 100th until he got punching bags Bangladesh ... what was his average , not something infinitely better than Very Very SUper's ..

  • MysticMan on August 16, 2012, 4:26 GMT

    Great article, Sanjay. I do not understand why Laxman wants to still continue playing... He has a great Test record and we as a nation will always remember and cherish his 281 at Eden Gardens. If we just heeded to 50% of Ian Chappell's prescient observations, we would be 50% ahead! I still am unable to understand why our famed batting lineup could not adjust to the fuller length bowled in Australia! Were they afraid that by standing a foot outside the crease, they will not have the time to react? Same with how deep they stood in the slips! It looked more like distance chosen based on the reaction time than the bounce on the wicket! On the whole, I think the selectors (and BCCI) think that Indians do not care how poorly they perform in Tests. I cannot give any other explanation...

  • on August 16, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    More than India's senior batsmen ageing fast in the last couple of years, it looks like Srikkanth's brain has aged faster and is now senile! What he has done is now passed the buck on to the next selection committee which will be headed by Mohinder Amarnath. It makes no sense to select Laxman! The only possible and reasonable explanation for his selection is that he deserves a good send-off and so since the first test against NZ is going to be played in Hyderabad, it will be good to bid adieu to him right there.

  • karthik666 on August 16, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    Very easy to comment any selection as poor .. That is all we all can do always

  • on August 16, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    I think the selectors should have looked at established domestic batsmen like Badrinath, Kaif, and even Jaffer. Youth is not the answer to all the problems India face. The ground fielding may improve. But the slip catching will suffer. Add to that the fact that these younger guys will need a lot of time to build up their mental strength and character which is the primary requirement in test batting. I don't think it is a wrong ploy to bring in guys who are in their 30s only because they will serve for fewer years compared to someone who is in their 20s. If a guy can come in and start performing in a matter of 2-3 matches, then its all we need. Not every player is able to handle the pressures of international cricket at the age of 21-25. It will take time and the Indian team doesn't have that kind of time. Once Zaheer and Sachin leave, it will leave even bigger holes to fill. Badrinath , Jaffer, Kaif, Bist. Tight, compact and defensive batsmen are the way to go I feel.