Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is it fair Dhoni???

This blog is mostly on the lines of venting my frustrations.  Today, I found more reasons to vent after reading Dhoni’s post match interview.

Before even I start accusing anybody, I would like to make my stand very clear. I’m a big fan of Dhoni. He gave me a lot of pride, made my following of Indian Cricket fulfilled after leading India to the World Cup glory in 2011. As much I’m fond of his cricketing abilities, I’m extremely disappointed with his handling on selections/resources.

In today’s interview Dhoni more or less confirmed that Jadeja will be included in the playing XI for the second Test (possibly the entire series too) at Hyderabad. If I interpreted Dhoni’s statement properly, “Jadeja will be a feature in the Test XI, until he develops into a fine all-rounder that Dhoni/India wishes him to be for all the talent he is blessed with”.

Dear Dhoni,
Your intentions are fabulous. But there is a breeding ground called ODI and T20 which can be well utilised to develop Jadeja into a fine batting all-rounder. You can send him up the order in any of these formats, make him score few hundreds and then experiment him in Test arena. In today’s scenario (especially Australia series), Jadeja’s presence is doing injustice to two players. A specialist full-time batsman at No.6 (or) A specialist left arm spinner like Ojha. Because a good cricketer was born in the era of Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly, you (Dhoni), Laxman, Anil Kumble and hence could not break into the national setup, it is understandable. But, not by any means a player like Jadeja keeps a proven/proving performer like Ojha out is chewable proportion.

If you did not want Harbhajan Singh, you could have prevented the off-spinner’s selection from the squad. I’m sure you have that much power in the system. Also if Harbhajan Singh is not selected for this series, not many are going to brood over it. After all, Harbhajan selection in the squad or XI hardly carries merit, which even a common cricket fan can understand. But if you select somebody (especially in the XI), it is important to give a fair run, especially when the person is trying/doing it good. When Clarke and Siddle were strongly holding fort at the crease, none of the bowlers could make an impact on the partnership. It was only after the (delayed) introduction of Bhajji (an hour before lunch on Day 2 of First Test against Australia at Chepauk), things started happening. It was Bhajji’s bowling that cost Clarke’s wicket to Jadeja at the other end. In the next over, Bhajji also broke the resistance of Siddle. Interestingly, you took Bhajji out of the attack immediately, only to bring back Ashwin for his hunt of 7th wicket. By the way, that last wicket did not come to you as swiftly you anticipated. The trio of Ashwin, Ishanth and Jadeja need extended lunch session to break the last pair. This is what I term unfair. To show Ashwin in better light, it is not fair to give Harbhajan a raw deal. At the same time, every critic like me is surely happy to witness Ashwin’s progress as a bowler compared to the previous outing against England.  

It is understandable Sehwag is getting an extended run at the opening slot. After all, he did something worthy in the past to deserve an extended run. I know I will be harsh now, but it is unfair if Vijay even feature in the second Test. If in a paltry chase of 50 runs, Vijay could not save his wicket, how does it justify playing him the next Test? And the guy (Rahane) who has been waiting, has been waiting for nearly 2 years now (with the squad), while Vijay made 2 comebacks in 2 years (at West Indies and now). Is this any fair?

We all understand this much that the relationship between you, Gambir and Sehwag was causing dissent in the side. If 3 of you cannot co-exist in the setup it is important you all required to be separated. Understanding you are better of the trio in terms of age, talent, respect, adoration, leadership (by the way leadership does not mean winning matches for India), Gambir and Sehwag are being slowly removed from the system/setup. This way you can work on the next generation with pedigree.

When so much is done for you, do you even care to reciprocate the courtesy?
I sincerely doubt at this time. Varun Aaron (touted as pace sensation) was only a passenger in the 5 match ODI series played at England. If you don’t nurture (debut) a fast bowler in those assisting surfaces of England, where else would you? In, dust bowls???

India was sinking ship in Australia with a famed batting line up falling apart game after game. If you don’t blood youngster even after losing the series (3-0), when else would you? After forceful/self-conscious retirement of players??? If you had taken the DECISION of dropping Dravid and Laxman for Rahane, Rohit Sharma in the final Test, the retirements of the legends would have ended with fewer controversies. The least, there would be only few lips to speculate it today.

The comeback of Yuvraj Singh, followed by Raina, followed by the launch of Jadeja for a role in the middle order during the course of different series, all happened at the expense of Rahane warming the bench. Back then we (Rahane included) were thinking that Rahane is an opening prospect and hence it was alright if Rahane was not considered for No.6. We were waiting for Sehwag/Gambir axe for Rahane to make an entry. Now, after 2 years when Gambir finally received the axe, the opportunity goes to Vijay and not Rahane. After all this time, you now spill that Rahane is considered a middle order prospect. Is it any fair on your part?

If you don’t like him, please don’t select him. Had you not selected and benched Rahane all this time, he would have spent those period wisely playing domestic cricket. For all the time he rusted in the bench, even if you give him a chance now, we don’t have any idea of his form. Is this fair? Thankfully Manoj Tiwary injured and ruled himself out of contention. Otherwise, his would have been another unfair story for scoring a century in an ODI only to be dropped from thereafter. Then there was an Irfan Pathan, who was only a second choice all-rounder after Ravindra Jadeja even on sporting surfaces like Australia (CB Series 2012). And then there was a Pujara who served the ODI squad with no purpose (except the purpose of carrying water) who would have made sense if played in the finals of Ranji Trophy 2012-13.

By the way, what the hell is this Captaincy phobia? Every board/skipper uses the short format to develop a new skipper. In some situations, the skipper themselves give up the format in order to manage the workload or give up the power to future considerations. Smith, De Villiers, Clarke, Jayawardene, Misbah Ul Haq, Cook are some examples who don’t do skipper duty in the T20 format. Do you even have any plans of developing a successor?

If this has been your handling of resources/selections and personal agenda - how do we expect that you will do anything with pedigree?

You already mentioned that you don’t look for the sports column in the Newspaper. I’ve no hopes that these questions from a common fan in a tiny blog would anyway reach your eyes. I wrote this to vent my frustration.

What the hell was that track in Chennai? It clearly appeared a dirt road than a cricket wicket. The surfaces produced for the limited overs cricket against Pakistan and England was fabulous. We for once believed that you are truly preparing for the World Cup 2015 and also for the Test series to be played at South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia beforehand. As a matter of fact, the strip for the Irani Trophy was better than the one that hosted the first Test against Australia. Also news on media floating that BCCI is strongly insisting curators to produce sporting surface for all domestic matches including IPL. That sends a message that the next generation cricketers should not be laughing stock on bouncy surfaces outside subcontinent.

If so much is your fore thinking, why the hell be short sighted for results and produce such ugly looking strips? Win series? Save Dhoni?

Can’t you do one inspirational selection? Don’t you think there was one cricketer from the World Cup Under-19 team good enough to be even part of this squad? By the way, what are those talks about Jeevanjoth Singh making runs in debut season on those lively tracks of Mohali. Wouldn't be inspirational had you included him in place of Vijay/Dhawan?

If the board is working on cricketers for tomorrow with sporting surfaces, I sincerely doubt you will make good selections.

To All
Please don’t treat Indian Cricket fans stupid. We expect you to go a notch above us and not trick us with filthy gimmicks.

Bottom line: Preparation for tomorrow starts with today.

Cricket Lover

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