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'Don't know what metric is being used for selection' - Manoj Tiwary

Manoj Tiwary attemps a reverse sweep ESPNcricinfo

Manoj Tiwary, the India and Bengal batsman, feels like he's stuck in limbo. In a conversation with ESPNcricinfo, Tiwary expressed his disappointment at not being selected in any of the six squads named by the BCCI last week for three upcoming competitions: the four-dayers against South Africa A, the three-team Duleep Trophy, and the quadrangular series involving Australia A and South Africa A, where India will send two teams.

"I was hoping to be picked in the India A squads," Tiwary said. "When somebody performs to his highest, then he should be rewarded. And I had an outstanding 50-over tournament last season, creating a record that no one else has had in Indian cricket history."

In the 2017-18 domestic season, Tiwary scored 507 runs at 126.70, the highest-ever List-A average in a single domestic season in India (minimum 400 runs). He also averaged more than 100 in both the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Deodhar Trophy, a feat no other batsman has achieved in a season. These distinctions were revealed in a conversation between Tiwary and a statistician he had reached out to on Twitter on Monday evening.

When asked whether a shift in focus on younger cricketers could be the reason for his omission, Tiwary quoted MS Dhoni's example and said that a lack of communication from the selectors had left him with no clarity on his future.

"Everybody in the world knows, age is just a number," Tiwary said. "At the age of 32 to get cornered for age - that should not be the reason. Everybody heard MS Dhoni's response to the average age of the Chennai franchise in the IPL. He looked at a player and assessed whether he was quick in the field, whether he has ball sense and if he has agility. That's how players should be looked at. And as far as fitness is concerned, I'm always up there. I don't know what more I have to do, there is no clarity from the selectors. And I would love to hear from them. If I can get to know what the parameters are, then obviously I will plan accordingly.

"I've realised that what you do for the team's cause, it doesn't get recognised. People just want to see the numbers on the scoresheet, but forget to notice what sort of pitch we played on or what the game's result was."

"Even I have a dream to play for India, and the only way forward is step by step. I've never got an opportunity to play under Rahul [Dravid] bhai, the India A coach, so I wanted an opportunity, to be honest. It's difficult to make it to the senior team right now, but every time India A plays, it's important because it allows players the opportunity to go to the next level. But I would really love to hear from the people who are overlooking me. I can't recollect the last time the selectors spoke to me.

"If IPL is the main cause behind the selection, then I had an outstanding 2017. I won the most number of FBB awards [for most stylish player] with Gautam Gambhir, and I was one of the top performers in my team. So that's why I say I don't know what metric is being used for selection. That's why I want to hear from the selectors."

Tiwary, Bengal's captain for the past season, also said that an intention to win games may have led to lower first-class scores from him, because he had always placed the team above his personal big numbers.

"I've realised that what you do for the team's cause, it doesn't get recognised," Tiwary said. "People just want to see the numbers on the scoresheet, but forget to notice what sort of pitch we played on or what the game's result was.

"In last season's Duleep Trophy, I scored 35 on a rank turner in Lucknow, and I was not out, but the umpire gave me out. He apologised later, but when I look back at the wickets I've thrown for the team's cause - knowing that people will look at these numbers at the end of the game - I don't feel bad, because for me victory has always been first and personal numbers have come later. I used to think they [selectors] looked at how much a player contributes to a team's success, but seeing the squad selections, it does not seem that way."

Tiwary last played for India in 2015, when a second-string side toured Zimbabwe for an ODI series, scoring 34 runs in three ODIs. Before that, Tiwary was given a short run in the India squad during the 2011-12 season, when he made his highest score of 104* against West Indies in Chennai, before being dropped soon after. Looking back, Tiwary said those moments stung, and are rather reminiscent of the situation he faced seven years on.

"Although I have matured as a cricketer, as an individual, those experiences have stuck with me," Tiwary said, "After scoring a hundred for India, I was out of the playing XI for 14 games. That's also understandable because it's the India team. But you do get frustrated. I'm human too.

"It was a team decision and I accept it, but I cannot forget that. I cannot recollect anyone scoring a 100 and getting dropped. I was one of them. So when you get ignored after a good season of cricket once again, all those past memories come back to your mind. And you cannot control the thoughts in your mind. It comes back to you even if you want to push it away.

"As a cricketer, we work so hard pre-season for what? To win championships, to be recognised and rewarded, and you know how tough it is to perform at an average of over 100 in both List-A formats, it's not possible every year. I will try my best to replicate that, but it's very difficult."

On what the future holds for Tiwary, he said that he has no plans to hang his boots anytime soon. League-cricket commitments keep him occupied when the Indian domestic season is closed, and in his own words, Tiwary is "still very hungry" to make it to the senior side.

"I am still optimistic to make it to the India A squads. I am quick on the field, I can read the game well and I have the belief in me to make it to the teams. I also want to go strong like Ambati [Rayudu] and Suresh [Raina]. I know how to make it to the team, all I need is an opportunity. I want to make it to the India A team, but not at the expense of another injured player. I want to make it on my own ability.

"The only thing I can do is continuing to play. I am currently playing club cricket in Kolkata, because of which I skipped my stint in Dhaka Premier League this season. Provided I get an opportunity next year, I will again to go Dhaka. I will keep playing until I can push for a senior-team recall. See, the only thing I can do is keep playing. But Dhaka traffic brings the city to a standstill, and I hate traffic," he said with a laugh.