It was only when I read the news of his retirement that I realized Vinod Kambli, last seen in Test action in 1995 and in the limited form in 2000, was actually still ‘available’ till the other day. Preternaturally talented, manically self-destructive [at least until the late 2006 marriage, his second, to Andrea Hewitt, at which point he showed some sign of finding the personal sense of equilibrium he appeared to have misplaced], Kambli for me is the single greatest instance in modern times of talent wasted partly due to his own shortcomings and partly due to the short-sightedness of an administrative structure that has neither the skill, nor the inclination, for effective man-management.
Elsewhere, Rahul Dravid returns to the one-day squad — which, as Sidharth Monga argues, may not in and of itself be a bad thing. The thinking seems to be, India’s young guns have been found out by pace and bounce, we need a semblance of solidity, and there is nothing as solid as Dravid, ergo. Fair enough.
But that is at best part of a solution — and a short term one at that. What is not equally clear to me is whether the BCCI has some sort of mechanism for rehabilitation. Having identified Rohit Sharma as the one player with this weakness [Suresh Raina, to quote just one other example, didn’t shape all that well against the shorter ball but he seems to be back in the side], what next? Do selectors red flag the player, send the board a note saying this kid is a talent but he has a problem we need to work on? Does the board then consult with its experts in the coaching academy, and send Sharma to the NCA for some intensive work on technique? Absent any of this, merely substituting a Dravid for a Sharma is nothing more than a band aid applied to a wound, while the underlying infection is allowed to go untreated.
In passing — a question for the selectors: what is the problem with Pragyan Ojha? Do you know? And if you do, have you communicated your thoughts to the player, and advised him on what he needs to do next? Or is the Misra for Ojha switch merely one more example of the easy come, easy go, plenty more fish in the pond thinking that characterizes our cricket administration?