The selection of a cricket team is an occasion of a national debate. The following is my contribution to this debate:
The selectors have done a bad job. And there is little excuse for it this time, since there has been plenty of domestic cricket at all levels and there is no other testing than this, first OT guage who are the players in form, and second to study and choose now talent. In picking Srikhanth, they have selected a player who is totally out of form. The same may be said about Dilip Vengsarkar, but then Vengsarkar has class, Srikhanth has got only talents.
As for new talents, though Praveen Amre seems wise choice, there is a great deal of complaint of critics more qualified than myself on the dropping of Vinod Kambli, considered as the only genuine find of the season. However, for what my opinion is worth. I do not think Kambli is ready or equipped for the top most grade of cricket. At Sharjah, after his first 38 runs, the Pakistani bowlers discovered his weakness for the ball clipped away from him. After that, they tied him into knots, indecisive leaden-footed, bat waving in the air. Word travels fast in the cricket world and it would not have been long before the Australian bowlers learnt about Kambli's lack of technique and ecploited it. What he required now is to stay at home and correct his faults and it is the duty of senior crickets to assist him.
To come back to the team, as selected, I agree that there are too many batsmen and too few bowlers. It is as unbalanced a team as may be found. And it is absurd for the selectors to say that if one more player is allowed, they would selected Hirani. Their job is to select the winning combination within the quota allotted to them.
So now we have Dilip Vengsarkar for whom a batting position would have to be found among the slots presentlyoccupied by Manjrekar, Azaruddin and Tendulkar. And a Ravi Shashtri who could open the innings or find himself out of the team. And there is not just a third opener but also a fourth one in Chandrashekhar Pandit.
The bowling is stretched thin between Kapil Dev, Manoj Prabhakar and a couple of untired youngsters. This sort of selection is as unfair to Kapil Dev as it is to India.
With this sort of an attack, we cannot possibly win the Test series against Australia. If we can draw it, it would be because of the batsmen.
Meanwhile, the only good thing that seems to have happened in the last couple of days is the scheduled arrival of the South African team, though for this the credit should go to the government, instead of the cricket board. Also, at the time of writing (this morning), there is no mention of Bombay being one of the venues for the match. And if Bombay does not get a match, we know exactly who to blame for it.