One-Day Mataram

Deconstructing the gentleman's game

Intelligent selection, for a change

The colonel hath spoken!

Vengsarkar's approach to selection seems no-nonsense and aggressive

Dilip Vengsarkar has played a cracking shot with a straight bat. His no-nonsense and aggressive approach to cricket was stamped all over the selection of the ODI team to tour South Africa. The frankness with which he has admitted that there is no exceptional talent in the country, which could walk straight into the national team, was refreshing. I agree completely! There is an over-abundance of good to very good players... all trying their darnedest to impress the selectors. But is there anyone out there who has the selectors or the media or the past players in awe of his talent and performances? I guess not! So then... what do the selectors do?! They pick up bright sparks from the sea of mediocrity and hope that the formidable coaching staff that accompanies the Indian team, can polish the rough edges and produce a player worthy of representing the country. It's an approach that has a low hit to miss ratio. That's why being a selector is a thankless job! But by setting the stage right upfront, Vengsarkar has shrewdly pre-empted some of the criticism that might be directed at him, should the team his selectors have chosen, fails!

When asked about whether Sourav Ganguly was considered, Vengsarkar chose to stop all further speculation by a simple, "No!". And if Ganguly and his fans are sad or incensed... tough luck, guys!! Ganguly has precious little in his favour to fortify the case for his inclusion in the national team. He should really take his make-believe speech from a soft-drink ad to heart and fight his way back into contention with solid performances.

And perhaps the most unexpected surprise that Vengsarkar had in store was the inclusion of Wasim Jaffer.

Jaffer's inclusion is a wake-up call for Sehwag.

Jaffer isn't a natural ODI player and his technique is compact and sedate at best. However, I see his inclusion in the team more as a wake-up call for Sehwag. Sehwag's hit-or-miss approach more often than not lets the initiative slip out of India's grasp in the first few overs. And by including a solid opener in the team, the selectors have flashed a warning to Sehwag to get his act together. In fact, this warning could also apply to Tendulkar! On the other hand, the recall of Zaheer and Kumble was to be expected. However, Zaheer's inclusion will make Pathan nervous while having Kumble around will make Bhajji happy! It's a shame, though, that Ramesh Powar had to be sacrificed after some effective performances.

Finally, that the selectors included the names of Agarkar and Yuvraj in the squad knowing they were injured, was a signal to underline Vengsarkar's quote about the dearth of exceptional talent in the country. It is now upto young cricketers in India to take this as a challenge and prove Vengsarkar wrong! Good job, colonel!!

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