Ranji Trophy 2012-13 November 20, 2012

'What more do I need to do?' - Pankaj Singh

Despite being one of the most accurate, consistent and wicket-taking bowlers in domestic cricket, Pankaj Singh has been consistently ignored by the national selectors

"Jaan toh lagani hi padti hai jab bhi gend aapke haath mein hoti hai [You have to give it all every time you bowl]," Pankaj Singh, the Rajasthan bowling spearhead for well over half a dozen years now, said after having bowled three spells at his best on the last day of their Ranji Trophy Group A tie against Madhya Pradesh. Such was Pankaj's energy that each one of his three spells on a meaningless last day, was as good as - if not better than - his opening spell of the match under a blazing sun on the first morning at the KL Saini Stadium.

Even though Pankaj, 27, tried to be as optimistic as possible, there was a hint of frustration in his voice. And soon, rather than answering a question, he himself raised one that has been pondering not only him but a lot of Indian cricket followers. "Can someone tell me why is it that I am not picked for India [in Tests]?" he asked. "I have picked 150 wickets in the last four domestic seasons and there have been so many others who have been given an opportunity. Why I am not presented with an opportunity? What more do I need to do to seek attention [of the selectors]?"

There's no doubt that Pankaj has a point while venting out his dejection. After all, despite being one of the most accurate, consistent and wicket-taking bowlers on the domestic scene over the last five seasons, he has been consistently ignored by the national selectors. The only time he was part of the Test squad was during the tour to Australia in 2007-08 but he didn't get an opportunity to bowl in a competitive game during the tour.

The only time he wore the national jersey was during the tri-nation series in Zimbabwe in June 2012 as part of a second-string India squad led by Suresh Raina. While all the other India pace bowlers on that tour have played at least one Test, Pankaj is still waiting for his chance. Since then, he has consistently picked wickets in domestic cricket. He was the second-highest wicket-taker in the 2010-11 Ranji season with 43 wickets [53 in the whole domestic season] and was the third highest wicket-taker in Rajasthan's victorious campaign last season.

Did he try and ask any selector - none of whom is a member of the refurbished national selection panel - about what he needed to do in order to get a national call-up? "I had asked one of them about three years ago. I was told I was lacking in pace, so I worked on it and now, I can consistently bowl 135+ [kph] for hours," he said. "Then they said I don't perform against the big teams. I can tell you that I have played six games against Mumbai and barring two of them [including last week's Group A tie], I have picked rich hauls in the other four games."

Despite his returns of one for 90 against Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai in Jaipur last week, Pankaj has picked three five-wicket hauls in six outings against the domestic stalwarts.

While the likes of Ashok Menaria and Robin Bist have gone on to represent India A after starring in Rajasthan's back-to-back Ranji triumphs, Pankaj's impressive record has been overlooked. "Let alone the India side," he said.

But howsoever frustrated a sportsperson is, a ray of hope is what keeps him going through the paces day and day out. The case was no different for Pankaj, who signed off with: "I have been ignored even in the A squad for a long time. I just hope that my efforts will be recognised soon."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 22, 2012, 17:00 GMT

    yes.Pankaj Singh deserves a chance...

  • Hitesh on November 22, 2012, 15:04 GMT

    The best way to get noticed is to perform well in IPL and you will have to be included in India or India A squad

  • Dummy4 on November 22, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    It's pity that players like Harbhajan singh gets into the team without performing even at domestic level and players like Pankaj Singh who are delivering consistently are not selected even for India A team.

    Since u r professional player, why don't u get in touch in foreign cricket dometic team/clubs, I am sure u would perform exceptionally well on those lively pitches and may be then BCCI would give u the due consideration u deserve.

  • Sunanda on November 22, 2012, 10:16 GMT

    If Vinaya Kumar, and Abhimanyu Mithun can get the chance why not Pankaj Singh. But having said this, Selectors already failed, when they tried with Mithun and Vinay. I think selectors are looking for guys in early 20's with raw pace, like Umesh jadav and Varun arron. keep working Pankaj. Try to bit more economical in IPL, I am sure these selectors will notify you.

  • Dummy4 on November 22, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    I have all the simpathy for Punkaj. His performance is consistant for last 4-5 season. He has +6 feet height and now bowling at good pace as well. I hope new selection committee will give a look. His problem is that he is not from Rajasthan so no lobby

  • Dummy4 on November 22, 2012, 7:07 GMT

    Pankaj Singh is surely ahead of guys like Dinda, Vinay, mithun...he has good height, now notched up his pace to 135k, has been in good rhythm, can move the ball both ways with lively pace & most importantly can bowl a long sessions without breaking down..what more BCCI requires, for a pacer a good height is always an advantage...surely instead of looking over tried & failed bowlers BCCI should open his eyes to see performance of guys like PANKAJ, RITURAJ, SHAMI AHMED, PAWAN SUYAL, AWANA...who r hard working & can bowl fast

  • Kavin on November 22, 2012, 3:41 GMT

    You're not a fast bowler if you can't go higher than 120/KPH. So stop calling yourself a fast bowler first and then keep doing what you have been doing till you get yourself retired from domestic cricket.

  • timothy on November 21, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    a great bowler. Hits the deck hard and swings the ball both ways. Definitely better than Dinda who is one of the most innocuous fast bowlers i have ever seen

  • Sachin on November 21, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    India needs to build there Fast bowling as most of the test series from next year are going to be outside subcontinent, South Africa 2013 End, New Zealand 2014 Start, England 2014 Mid and Australia 2014 End. So it is necessary to built pace attack around Yadav, Ishant and Sreeshant with Aaroon, Awana, Pankaj and for swinging conditions Praveen Kumar.

  • Dummy4 on November 21, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    When he was selected for India's tour of Australia in 2007-08...he must have been in good form then considering he was selected to represent India,but I was really surprised initially when Ishant Sharma was selected in the team ahead of him,that Ishant did well thereafter is a different issue,but after that tour he was dropped from the India squad I'm not sure if it was due to an injury or anything else but he was never given a look-in after that which was very surprising.He deserved atleast one opportunity.And he's not the only one who has been selected to represent India and then dropped from the squad without even getting a chance to prove himself,another palyer who had to go through the same fate was dhawal kulkarni who was selected for the NewZealand tour of 2009,and then never given a chance.This is quite surprising to me,why pick a player in the squad and then drop him without giving him an opportunity to play even a single game??

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