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   Now that everybody is having his say on Mr. Raj Singh's... (October 1, 1990)

Now that everybody is having his say on Mr. Raj Singh's selection of the Indian team, let me include mine.

I think the dropping of Dilip Vengsarkar was mean, petty, uncharitable, uncalled for and unwise. Here is the best batsman in the country, among the best in the world, a batsman in good touch and form, one who has carefully and diligently paced himself through a full season of domestic cricket to reach peak form for the tour, amd he is drooped. Without so much as a reason being given for it. It is alright to say that a team for the 90s is being built, but Vengsarkar is not that old not to qualify for the 90s.

That is the first shame. The second is Ravi Shastri. He is young enough to play through the 90s and mature enough to lead the team during the decade. And if he is momentarily out of form, the efforts should be towards helping him to regain from and not discard him. As a player, Shastri is the only genuine all-rounder in the team, besides Kapil Dev. The others call themselves all-rounders because they ate neither specialist batsmen nor bowlers. And as captain, he has a track record of success.

The dropping of Shrikkanth, I applaud. He should never have been asked to open the innings, never. A good eye, quick reflexes, are no substitutes for technique. And if we did not notice his lack of basic inputs as an opener so far, it was because he had Gavaskar at the other end, who was always two and even three batsmen put together. So, if Srikkanth scored a rapid 32 and Gavaskar plodded on to 132 by tea-time, we fought we were blessed with a great opening pair.

What I do not understand is replacing Srikkanth as captain with Azharuddin. If ever a player requires a strong captain to guide him, it is Azharuddin, and now he is made captain. The poor is a gifted driver of the ball, provided the bowling is not too fast, and an outstanding fielder in the deep, but that is all. Now, as captain, he will not even be able to field in the deep and save the amny runs that he used to. Besides, when Kapil Dev is in the team, why make somebody else the captain!

Kapil, I think, has been the most wronged cricketer in Indian cricket history. We treat as a senior player, we expect him to guide and advice and keep the team together, and we don't make him captain. And he goes on playing under different and incompletent captains, giving his best, never complaining.

There is also an irony in the Kapil Dev situation. He was made captain when he should not have been, when he was green and wanting and just a large oaf from Haryana. But now that he has matured and gained respect and polish and become a leader among men, he is not required. I wish him a good tour.

 
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