The team for the England cricket tour gets selected this evening. If I was the selection committee, I would change the captain. I would make Tendulkar captain, Anil Kumble vice-captain, Azharuddin would be in the team, but he would be left to concentrate on his batting. I have no complaint against his fielding. He is the best, among the best in the world.
I may even consider making Kumble captain, Tendulkar vice-captain. At the highest level of the game, academic education counts. Kumble is a university man, Tendulkar is a college drop-out, though I am aware he has got a wise head on his square shoulders, and the right feel for the game.
There is nothing wrong in demoting a captain. In cricket it is being doen all the time, all over the world, including India. Even Kapil Dev, a winning World Cup captain, has palyed under the same Azharuddin. If it helps the team. I say why not. And if it helps Azharuddin to regain his batting form, all the more reason it should be done.
This is going to be a regular tour, after a long time India will be playing a Test series, preceded and interspersed by several country matches. Tendulkar will not be opening the innings and we will have to find a man to partner Navjot Singh Sidhu. Manoj Prabhakar is out, he has burnt his boats, let him stew in his politics, national and cricket. They say politics is the last resort for scoundrels, perhaps it is also for disgruntled cricketers. Still, I am sotty that a fine career should have ended on this sad note. Prabharkar should have got his benefit and spent the rest of his life as a coach. He would make a good coach. For he is a man nto a born talents who has fashioned himself into a most useful cricketer.
So, who partners Sindhu as an opener, and who replaces Sidhu every time he falls ill? Jadeja is out of the question, it will have to be a new man, somebody not yet reckoned with. Or, Manjrekar, I think we have to give Manjrekar, I think we have to give Manjrekar more opportunities to function as an openr. That, possibly, may be the ideal solution. Tendulkar would come in third, Azharuddin fourth, followed by Kambli. That would be the nucleus of the Indian batting.
It is in finding bowlers that the selectors will have a difficult time. It is a good thing that the two strike bowlers have played on English grounds last year. That should be a considerable assistance. It also establishes the virtues of Indian cricketers playing in English country cricket every opportunity they get. Pakistan, I have no doubt, built their team in that manner, and, to a lesser extent, so did the West Indies.
By this evening, it will be known what the selectiosn decide. Half the battle will be won if they decide will be won if they decide wisely.