To pick a set of fifteen cricketers out of an inflated Indian talent pool is not an easy job. No matter how adept you’re at your work, questions will be raised. There will be hard-hitting analysis, close scrutiny, and countless debates over deserving players who failed to make a cut, and undeserving players who managed to retain their places.
But nothing hits home like questioning the credentials of selectors who picked the squad. It’s cricket’s own version of the “Who polices the police” conundrum.
This is, of course, a flawed metric in many ways, but there’s a hint of legitimacy in such arguments, especially after the proliferation of the T20s, which, in turn, have had a considerable impact on the other two formats. Admittedly, a good student doesn’t always grow up to be a good teacher. But the chances of them succeeding is definitely higher than a backbencher.
The current Indian selection committee – comprising Chetan Sharma, Sunil Joshi, Harvinder Singh, and Debashish Mohanty – has come under the scanner after they confirmed the 15-member squad for the upcoming T20I World Cup. There were too many pressing questions that require an explanation, and no one deserves this more than the fans. But there was no press conference.
In the absence of the presser, the inference can be drawn that the selectors didn’t hold one because they would struggle badly to justify their own decisions. Facing an attack from an army of faceless accounts on social media is, of course, easier than answering the absence of Sanju Samson from the squad.
The T20 has evolved at a rapid pace. A great batting performance from five years down the line might not be as great when we look at it now. Too many metrics that are still the yardstick of success in the other two formats do not even hold the same value in T20s. For instance, the batting average, which is a great indication of a player’s caliber, is a very faulty measure in T20s. A higher average doesn’t always translate to better performance.
Most of the commentators, who are cricketers of yesteryears, get their analysis wrong, and it’s hard to refute that selectors themselves are not cut from the same clothes. The Indian T20I team needs selectors who are well updated with the trends of the format, not the Luddites who played their last game in a totally different era, and think the game stopped evolving the moment they hung up their boots.
Chetan Sharma: The chairman of the selection committee is also the most experienced cricketer in the selection panel. He played 23 Tests and 65 ODIs in a career that spanned just over 10 years. Sharma boasts a record of bagging the first-ever hat-trick in the ODI World Cup but lacked the consistency to become a regular member of the side. He has never been a part of the T20 coaching set-up.
Sunil Joshi: He made his debut in 1996 in an ODI series against England, and played his last international game five years later, against Australia. In Test, he picked 45 wickets in 15 matches and managed 69 wickets in as many ODIs. Joshi, however, is the only member of the selection committee to feature in the Indian Premier League. He played four matches.
Debashis Mohanty: A medium-paced bowler from Odisha, Mohanty broke into the team upon the request of K Srikkanth, who was the head coach then. He played 2 Tests and 45 ODIs, and only eight T20s for Odisha.
Harvinder Singh: Harvinder Singh played his last T20 a year before the IPL began. For India, he played 3 Tests and 16 ODIs.
Lead Image: Chetan Sharma/Twitter