A common thought being expressed these days is that the Indian cricket selectors should be as ruthless as the Australians. See how they ended Steve Waugh’s ODI career, we are told. See how Michael Bevan was given the boot, and how Ian Healy wasn’t allow a farewell Test at his homeground. And so on.
There is a crucial difference to be noted between India and Australia, though. Australia have enormous bench strength. They could fire Healy because Adam Gilchrist waited, sack Michael Slater because Justin Langer was around, let Mark Waugh go because Damien Martyn had been kept out for too long. Outstanding talents like Stuart Law and Matthew Elliott and Stuart MacGill, who would have played a hundred Tests in any other country, spent ages waiting in the sidelines. If Mike Hussey and Brad Hodge played for any other team, they’d be international cricket veterans by now.
India, on the other hand, have a problem of who to bring in, not of who to leave out. Indeed, a common criticism against Greg Chappell in the last year was that he tried out too many youngsters. And now some people want to sack all the seniors. Strange.
Indeed, I count myself lucky as a fan of Indian cricket that players like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman happened to be in the same team for so long. A couple of years from now, they may all be gone. I’m sure a couple of youngsters may step it up a level and surprise us, but I’m nevertheless already feeling nostalgic on behalf of my future self.
That is not to say that if our big guns don’t perform they should be kept on indefinitely. But let’s be realistic about the options we have at any given point in time. And let’s not keep comparing ourselves to Australia. That way lies self-delusion.
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