I raised a question in my blog yesterday about future of India’s test Cricket and in compliance with my pledge I will not just bring up issues without providing adequate solutions. Thus, this blog is the concluding part of the yesterday’s topic and my recommendations are mere thoughts of my own and personal views and beliefs that I hope would carry the India test cricket in the right direction forward.
Yes, indeed, the eventual departures of the 3 mainstays of our middle order will create a huge void, but then we’re not all out of options yet. I already put up a few possible names yesterday, in which somehow I think Murali Vijay would be best suited as opener than any other slot. Now Viru has openly expressed his desire to bat at #4 when the GOD eventually retires and in my opinion this move makes more sense, as it provides the perfect “set it on fire” man to the lineup at that spot. Also, who can be better than the junior himself to step into the shoes of the senior? Now we need to hunt for the true “set up man” at #3 and a clinical “finisher” (or cleanup hitter as they call in baseball) at #5 with MS Dhoni coming in at #6.
In my opinion, Rohit Sharma is technically best suited finisher and by having him bat at #5 he can easily move up a number when Viru departs down the road. Rohit, though, will have to show tremendous consistency and improve on his fitness quite a few notches. For the coveted one drop spot, It’s a battle between Manish Pandey, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, and Manoj Tiwary. Pujara and Rahane bat at #3 at first class level and have impressive first class averages, while Pandey is a bright youngster at only 21 could be a long term prospect, Tiwary had one exposure to international levels where he was unfortunate to receive a Bret Lee express delivery and sadly not gotten a chance since then. That #3 spot are some tough shoes to fill in as that spot has been held by the “Great Wall of India” for well over a decade now. I would lean towards Pujara here.
On bowling front by 2012, Bhajji would be 32 and ZK would be 34 India would desperately need someone to replace these mainstays of the bowling army. Pragyan Ojha is one name that comes to my mind right away. A young Mumbai kid Harmeet singh, at 19, is making waves at first class level and would give Ojha a tough battle. The spot for other spinner can be grabbed by either Mishra or Chwala, with Chawla having age and very effective googely on his side, but Mishra is not afraid to toss it up. Munaf Patel is a great bowler but his fitness & fielding has cost him his place in the squad. That leaves us with RP Singh, who is talented but we would require him to be more consistent. Ishant Sharma is too good of a talent to waste and should definitely be in the scheme of things. So, the bowling options reduce to RP Singh – Ishant Sharma – Ojha/Singh – Mishra/Chwala, leaving us with the vital #7 spot – for an all-rounder.
I think the best all-rounder right now India posses is Irfan Pathan, at 27, age is still with him. He’s very useful middle-order batsman (avg of 32) and excellent swing bowler. He just needs captains and selectors confidence in him and they just need to be persistent with him that’s all. He would definitely bring that right balance to the test side with a fifth bowler and that reliable seventh batsman. Having reviewed all this, I feel a lot better than what I felt after yesterday’s article and don’t think that future is all gloom. You tell me, what you think of the Test squad below?
MS Dhoni (C), G Gambhir (VC), V Sehwag, M. Vijay, C Pujara, R Sharma, A Rahane, M Pandey, I Pathan, Z Khan, I Sharma, RP Singh/S. Tyagi, Harbhajan, P Ojha/Harmeet Singh, A Mishra/ P Chawla.
Again, this is all possible if BCCI wants to take Test cricket seriously. There is obviously more monetary incentive in T20 gimmick, however, until Australia, England, and South-Africa are playing the longer version, it will never die and the pace at which aussies generate the new talent they are a definite threat to India’s #1 rank in tests. Cricket administrators in India should not forget, that their stronghold on the world map, is due to India’s enhanced performance in the last few years. New generation’s attraction towards the shortest version is understandable, however, powers to be can change that by making domestic first class cricket more competitive, exciting, and with more incentives.
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav