Form is temporary, class is permanent. And while the selectors have to keep the classy players in mind, they should not ignore form too. Besides, they have to watch out for a cricketer's attitude, as also whether he is injury prone, whether he fits into the scheme of things (the horses for courses policy for example). Oh yes, a selector's job is not easy. The quintet are going to get damned if they pick this player or that and are really in a no win situation.

In any Indian squad, the majority of the players pick themselves. But it is the choice of those two or three fringe cricketers that causes the troubles, heartaches and controversy. If a player on form is selected, the critics point to another cricketer, classy enough to be picked. If on the other hand, the selectors go for the cricketer who has class written all over him, they are hauled over the coals for neglecting the form player. The selectors really are always skating on thin ice.

Should performances on the national circuit count? One assumes they should. For otherwise, the affected players, besides cricket `experts' all over the country, could well argue what is the point in doing well if the selectors are going to turn a blind eye. On the other hand, there are classy players who are already regulars in the side and who cannot take part in much of the domestic circuit because of the tight international calendar. Should the selectors opt for them or go for batsmen who score 1000 plus runs or bowlers who pick up 50 wickets and more in the Ranji Trophy?

Players like Yere Goud, Rashmi Ranjan Parida, Satyajit Parab, Connor Williams, Dodda Ganesh, Gagandeep Singh, Valmik Buch and Rakesh Patel may well ask what more they have to do to even be considered seriously for the national team. Goud was the highest run getter in the Ranji Trophy last season - 901 runs at an average of 75.08 with two hundreds and four fifties - while playing a stellar role in Railways coming tantalisingly close to winning the country's premier national competition. He wasn't even among the 26 probables called for the tour of Zimbabwe. Orissa entered the semifinals for the first time, thanks in the main to the form shown by Parida who scored 885 runs on his way to notching up the season's highest average of 110.62 with two hundreds and six fifties. He too was not among the probables. Baroda who won the Ranji Trophy after 43 years, were indebted to their openers Parab and Williams who scored 809 and 728 runs respectively. Neither of them were in the list of probables.

But honestly can any one of them seriously consider himself unlucky not to be considered for higher honours. The middle order door is closed tightly. Hemang Badani, talented and in form, cannot find a place in the Test squad. The openers, if not in the same class as the middle order or possessing the same degree of permanency, have still not done badly enough to warrant a replacement. So there is really no scope for any batsman to get into the side - unless he runs into a Bradmanesque run.

An interesting point however revolves around the bowling. It is well chronicled that the Indian bowling is the weak link in the team and there is scope for a bowler, capable of taking wickets consistently, particularly on the featherbed wickets at home, to squeeze into the squad. The season's highest wicket taker with 37 wickets, Dodda Ganesh was overlooked but the second and third highest wicket takers Ashish Nehra (36) and Debasish Mohanty (35) got the nod, first into the probables list and then into the touring squad. And while Harbhajan is now in the category of certainty when it comes to the Indian team, it is interesting to note that he took 28 wickets at 13.96 apiece. Rakesh Patel, who with 34 wickets was one of the stars of Baroda's triumph, was summoned to the camp for the probables.

So players who do well around the domestic circuit need not despair. Obviously the selectors make a note of their performances and besides the classy cricketers, they do not totally ignore the form players too.