Time to focus on the team

If Rahul Dravid has been 'rested' after a three-week break, then he has been dropped. 'Rested' has become an interesting term in world cricket these days, especially in Indian cricket. If S Badrinath or Ajit Agarkar is left out of the Indian squad, he has been 'dropped'. But if a heavyweight has been omitted, he is said to have been 'rested'. I remember thinking how ridiculous it sounded when the word was used by India's administrative manager to describe the non-selection of Irfan Pathan in West Indies at the beginning of the 2006-07 tour.

The straight-forward interpretation of the word 'rested' is that the selectors don't have the courage to deal with the heat that comes with dropping a big player. Strong decisions will inevitably invite strong reactions, and if, as a selector, you can't take the heat, then you are in the wrong business. If all you want to do is hang on to your job as a selector for another four years, then you are unlikely to make a difference to Indian cricket. The game will carry on in its usual way and your role as a selector will only be incidental to it.

If Dravid has indeed been dropped, it is unfortunate. Dravid has been the most selfless Indian cricketer that I have seen for the last ten years. I remember a reverse-sweep he played in the final Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi when he was on 270. It got him out, but India needed quick runs and Dravid isn't a kind of cricketer to care about his 300. And as captain, he chose to bat down the order in one-day cricket instead to taking the No. 3 position which would have got him more runs.

If anybody deserved a life jacket in troubled waters it was Dravid. But if his exclusion from the one-day squad is part of a process with a clear vision, then it will make some sense, for it is critical that the process must continue without compromise. Otherwise, Dravid would have got a very raw deal he least deserved.

Strong decisions will inevitably invite strong reactions, and if, as a selector, you can't take the heat, then you are in the wrong business

The next few months will tell us what kind of a chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar is: whether he is an uncompromising man with a vision for Indian cricket or just another bystander watching Indian cricket take its course.

Cricket still remains an individual sport in India as there is a tendency to put the focus on the player, with the team as a backdrop.

Even with selections, we focus so much on the scores of certain individuals that we ignore the team total. For a while now India's performance in one-day cricket has been below average. If Vengsarkar has a vision for 2011, common sense will tell him it's time to really change things and focus on the team.