Sunday, April 10, 2005

Selectorial Shenanigans

It was a case of deja vu (all over again!) as VVS Laxman once again found himself at the wrong end of the axe for the ongoing one-day series against Pakistan. It was a baffling decision, more so than the decision to leave out fellow scapegoat Anil Kumble. It came at a time when Laxman was playing himself into form in the test series. I must admit I have not read/heard what the selection committee cited as the reasons for Laxman's omission, but I think he most definitely offers more to the side than Dinesh Mongia. Watching Mongia's laboured efforts in the last World Cup where he was selected ahead of Laxman was painful. I'm not suggesting Mongia could not have become a better player between then and now, but there's nothing to suggest Laxman has become worse. Laxman is just one of a few batsmen in the side who have not produced the goods this season. But Laxman has fared pretty well in test cricket, although the big scores expected of him have been elusive. True, Mongia can fill in as a part-timer when one of other one-day trundlers go for more runs than the team can afford; he may also be a better man in the outfield, Laxman's excellent slip-catching not being a factor in the shorter version of the game. But Laxman offers something, as does Kumble, that Mongia has not quite shown that he is capable of - match-winning ability, especially against the better sides in world cricket. One suspects that mobility in the outfield, recent form and in Kumble's case, his age, may have counted against the two who have contributed enormously to the side's achievements, in the process swallowing pride and preferring to let performances do the talking. But enough is enough. Mediocrity should not be preferred to genuine talent, especially of the proven kind, if that is backed by hard work and team ethic. Laxman spoke bitterly in the aftermath of his omission on the Bangladesh tour, and it was understandable. To be fair, our selectors have done a decent job over the last few years and the days when the 'Bunch of Jokers' tag seemed quite appropriate are behind us. But they have erred in Laxman's case, I think. - NK

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