> Laxman to lead India A on Windies tour
> The team is: V V S Laxman (Capt.), Akash Chopra, Connor Williams, Gautam
> Gambhir, Ambati Rayudu, Abhijit Kale, Hemang Badani, Rakesh Patel, Avishkar
> Salvi, Laxmipathi Balaji, Tinu Yohannan, Ajay Ratra, Murali Kartik, Amit
> Mishra and Jai Prakash Yadav.
> **** How come Wasim Jaffer is not selected?
Because West Zone selector Kiran More is from Baroda, not Bombay? :-)
I think its a very poor decision myself. Jaffer is still pretty young,
and didnt look that far out of place in opening for India in 5 consecutive
tests abroad last year (in 5 away tests, he didnt do particularly well
overall - but had 3 fifties. In a similar comparison, Das played 5
tests abroad last year for 0 fifties; Bangar played 4 tests abroad
for 1 fifty; Sehwag played 5 tests abroad for 1 century and 1 fifty).
In addition Jaffer had a century in the Irani Trophy for Rest of
India - and while he hasnt been amazing or anything in the Ranjis
this season, he has played on "result pitches" (with 5 out of 6 matches
ending in results) and has averaged over 50 for the season. Surely it
would have made sense to let him get more exposure over an A-team
tour like this one.
Especially for Jaffer to not be picked over Connor Williams is frankly
incomprehensible to me. Williams is almost 30 already, and has had a
poor season - in 6 Ranji matches to date Williams averages only 31.55
for the year. Jaffer made it ahead of Williams to the test team to
WI in the first place because he outperformed Williams head-to-head
in the Duleep Trophy last season - since then he has continued to do
so in the Ranjis this year. And he is younger. Williams is a decent
enough batsman, but I dont know how he makes it in ahead of Jaffer at this
point of time - apart from the fact that Williams is from Baroda, as
is Kiran More the West Zone representative in the national selection
committee, while Jaffer is not.
In fact Williams has actually not even been Baroda's best batsman -
Satyajit Parab (who opens most of the time but IIRC has played a
couple of innings at #3 as well) has done far better this season,
averaging almost 60. Maybe they are eliminating Parab because he had
a very poor season last year - but then surely Williams having a poor
season *this year* should count as well?
This is the big poor decision IMHO - Gambhir and Akash Chopra are ok
at the other opener spots, since both have actually done well this
season (Delhi has had 3 results in 6 matches, so there has been more
of an opportunity - I might actually pick Chopra over Gambhir myself
for the season despite stats, since Gambhir actually greatly improved
his already terrific stats with a 233* in an easy draw-game against
Railways for instance, while my impression is that Chopra has been a
little more consistent on the more difficult pitches).
But Williams should not even make it ahead of Amit Pagnis - who averaged
over 60 in the Ranjis last year and over 50 this year. And who is also
The other somewhat questionable decision might be Hemang Badani - he
hasnt had an overwhelming season, averaging 40.00 this season. Someone
like Mithun Minhas of Delhi especially might have a quarrel - he has
averaged 67 in the middle-order for his team, for example. Or even
Kiran Powar might complain - playing in the same group as Badani he
has averaged 63 for the season. But Badani too makes it because he
is a former international and looked quite ok in his international
outings for the most part - and he has had a couple of good Ranji
knocks recently to boost his stock again.
As for the rest - most of the selections are sort of expected. It would
have been nice to see Irfan Pathan not be forgotten - he was India U19's
best paceman a year ago, and had a quite wonderful Duleep Trophy last
year (after which he made the India-A team to tour Sri Lanka). He hasnt
had a particularly good year in the Ranjis - but he is clearly the
youngest of the up-and-coming bowlers and deserves some encouragament.
But there is hard to see a spot for him at the moment in some ways -
Yohannan is an automatic on "looks" and given the investment India has
already made in him, Balaji has been tearing up the domestics since his
one horrendous debut ODI. Salvi has played only 4 matches due to injury
but has claimed 23 wickets this season at 13.4 and surely must go. And
Rakesh Patel has done much better than Pathan bowling for the same
team. So I suppose it makes sense that there was little room for Pathan.
The highest wickettaker in Division One is paceman Amit Bhandari, with
36 wickets at 18. But I suppose they feel they have seen him fail at
international level before - and he went on the India-A tour of RSA a
year ago, and was probably the worst paceman on view there, which has
hurt his chances long-term.
For a Bombay-fan there are other possible mild complaints with regard
to Ramesh Powar and/or Sairaj Bahutule. Bahutule has had a terrific
season again - 26 wickets at 18.07 so far, and he is a very useful
batsman indeed. But they have picked Amit Misra over him and that is
fair enough, because Misra is much younger and has a greater need for
exposure, and will serve India longer.
And there was no off-spinner taken, so Ramesh Powar misses out - Powar
hasnt bowled as much as he would have for other teams with less effective
attacks so far, but he has 15 wickets at 20.60. He also has 280
runs at 55.00 with a century and 2 fifties, all scored at a pretty
quick rate. This is a guy who was being given games of national
prominence 2 years ago, when he was nowhere near as good a cricketer
as he is today. He is still in his early 20s, so he actually deserves
a greater look now than he got then - especially as a possible
offspinning-allrounder possibility. But then the selectors wanted to
go with Yadav as the possible medium-pacer-allrounder prospect,
and there was room for only one.
And Ajay Ratra makes it because he is young and an international etc -
this season has seen MSK Prasad do quite terrifically well, better than
Ratra has ever done in his life domestically. But Ratra is much younger,
and I dont think the selectors are currently looking beyond Ratra and
Parthiv as future India wicketkeepers it he medium to long term.
And the above, of course, is only about the selections. The bigger
question must be as to why we are actually going on this tour, at this
point in time. The Indian domestic season is just about reaching its
climax - the final league round of the Ranjis is currently in progress
(Avishkar Salvi of Bombay had to miss this game against Rajasthan on
hearing of his being picked for example - he had to return from Rajasthan
to Bombay right away). And the true climax of the domestic season is yet
to come - the semis and finals upcoming soon. And then the Duleep
Trophy too. Sending an A-team off at this particular time is not all
that great IMHO - much rather have full strength teams to fix our
domestic cricket to start with. What this does more than anything else
is damage our domestic cricket (by devaluing it, with quite a few good
players missing, players who are key members of the best teams still
alive in the Ranjis), and it helps West Indies domestic cricket instead
(since our A-team will be playing against their domestic lineups for
the Carib Cup)!
Sadiq [ VVSL got a nice 70 yesterday ] Yusuf