Future perfect

After some deserved strictures on how India went about its business in the recent triangular ODI series, Harsha Bhogle spends some time mining the batting riches being thrown up in recent times.

Every time I see Manish Pandey, I see another dimension to him. Opening in the IPL, playing solidly in the middle order in the Ranji Trophy, and at all times being brilliant in the field. I am going to enjoy the next few years watching Kohli, Raina, Sharma, Pandey and Cheteshwar Pujara. Throw into that list Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan and, if you like to see good batting, you have reason to smile.

In fact, while on this topic, how about this A side to tour South Africa, Australia and, in a few months, England. Vijay, Rahane, Sharma, Kohli, Pujara, Pandey, Wriddhiman Saha, Mithun, Ashok Dinda, Sudeep Tyagi, Iqbal Abdulla, Piyush Chawla, Aushik Srinivas, and Irfan Pathan as captain. In fact, many years ago we used to have an Indian Colts team led by a certain senior player; it would be beautiful for these young men if Rahul Dravid could be persuaded to lead this team once in a while, for they can have no better teacher in the modern game than him.

The idea of bringing all these talents into an A team, and scheduling tours to the top nations, is perfectly timed [and for the nth time, I find myself wondering why such ideas seem to occur to the likes of Harsha, but never, ever, to the honchos ‘running’ Indian cricket].

A major problem for the youngsters is lack of opportunities at the highest level. This is when they are fizzing with talent, self-confidence, and the fearlessness of the young. It is also the time when they look around and realize they have very few, if any, opportunities to break into the topmost tier.

Sehwag and Gambhir at numbers 1 and 2; Rahul Dravid at 3, Sachin at 4, VVS at 5 and MS Dhoni at 6 currently command the batting slots at the Test level — and if you are a talented youngster looking to make a case for yourself, you find the jury has returned its verdict even before you’ve had a chance to speak: SRT, RD and VVS will, you realize, be around for a while yet, so no matter how eloquently you let your talent speak for itself, there is just no way you can crash that middle order. Worse, from the young one’s point of view, you also do not know when opportunities will open up.

So you wait, motivating yourself for the occasional big domestic game, and mostly marking time on flat batting tracks against dispirited bowling line ups — and with every passing day, you lose a bit of that effervescence that is the hallmark of the talented young.

Upshot: by the time you are roped into the team, you’ve lost the buzz [sometimes, and Ambati Rayudu is merely one case in point, you lose your way entirely during that seemingly endless waiting period] that made you noticed in the first place — and you then have fans and the media wondering what they saw in you in the first place.

The antidote to all of this is exactly what Harsha suggested — bring these young kids together into an A team and schedule as many games, against as many quality opponents, as possible throughout the year. Playing home and away against the likes of Australia, England, South Africa etc will keep their buzz going, help hone their talents and prepare them for national duty — and I suspect, given the batting and bowling riches contained in that list, that their games will be followed as keenly as those of the national team [more keenly, if said national team is playing Sri Lanka again].

In passing, I wonder if Harsha sometimes feels the way I do just now: you write some 200-300 words that you think makes sense, and just as you put the final period in place, you realize the whole effort is wasted — because none of this is even remotely on the radar of those in charge of the game.

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8 thoughts on “Future perfect

  1. Prem – One added benefit from such an A team would be that they will learn how to play as a team, together etc etc. It will be a definite plus for the senior / international team when these guys step up. Sehwag talks about how his domestic experience with Gambhir helps them play at the international level. I could see the same thing flow through for these guys as well.

  2. Just wanted to add couple more names who we need to look out for. The karnataka pace duo – Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun.

  3. You mentioned about Ambati,what about Badrinath he seems to have dissapeared from the radar?He seems to be a victim of categorisation-that he can play in one mould only.also you might recall the concept of shadow cabinet,why can’t we identify and keep ready a standby for every slot,ofcourse some of them are never going to get the Indian Cap ,but no harm !We have a non natural opener in ODIs -Sachin and we have a floating MSD.The tests have a more settled look.

  4. Harsha should have added “A lot of money could be made by broadcasting such a series”. That would’ve ensured that his article somehow is read by a BCCI official.

    If I remember correct, BCCI didn’t send Pujara to a camp in Australia because he was a minor at that time, and couldn’t travel unless accompanied by an adult (whose ticket BCCI didn’t want to pay).

    You expect that organization to send an entire team abroad? Not unless they can make money out of it.

  5. I’d love to see a game between the “A” team that’s proposed here and the current Ind XI at Gangotri Glades (or any such similar pitch in the country). Imagine Tyagi bowling to SRT, RSD and Viru – will he be overawed or will he handle it well ?? At the sametime, Imagine a Rahane/Vijay playing Zak, Nehra or Sreesanth ?? Mouth watering contests !! 🙂

    Would be a good study of how the “A” team stands up in such situations.

    On the last two lines – it’s probably an indicator that the folks who run the game don’t necessarily think abt it as much as they should. Rather unfortunate !!

  6. Sad… but probably true.
    Surely Prem, in your long career covering the game, you must have met at least ONE administrator who has love for the game at heart? If there isn’t even one, then….

    small nitpick: the Test batting No.6 slot is occupied by Yuvraj Singh, not MS Dhoni.

  7. There will no doubt be something to watch on TV and keep oneself engrossed. The last two lines of you mentioning the pointlessness of it all, is like falling THUD into reality…. ….for the second time in the blogpost. The first one immediately after you quoted from Harsha’s article. And as some claim the truth is ugly indeed.

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