Selection thoughts

Openers:
  • Virender "Why is Jaffer here? To breath down my neck?.. I can bowl.. Can he bowl?" Sehwag
  • Sachin "I should do well in SA .. no McGrath there" Tendulkar
  • Wasim "Why am I here? If I fail in the ODIs, would I be jeopardizing my test chances?" Jaffer

Middle Order:
  • Rahul "what is happening to this team? Aren't we sticking to the process enough?" Dravid
  • Mohammad "For a change, I don't feel guilty for keeping Laxman out.. that's Raina's job now" Kaif
  • Suresh "why is Jaffer here? yeah Kaif is right.. I admit it.. I'm guilty for keeping Laxman out" Raina
  • Dinesh "Sorry Laxman, Feel for you, know exactly what you are going through" Mongia

Wicket-Keepers:
  • Mahendra Singh "Kaarthick being in the squad doesn't affect me" Dhoni
  • Dinesh "Can both keepers play? I'm a better keeper, especially off Anil Bhai's bowling" Kaarthick
Seamers:
  • Irfan "hmm.. Zaheer is back.. I can bat at No.3.. Can he?" Pathan
  • Zaheer "I can't be as bad as Irfan.. my grandfather can't be as bad as Irfan" Khan
  • Shantakumaran "They should have never dropped me for the Champions Trophy " Sreesanth
  • Munaf "Zaheer or no Zaheer.. I'm the No.1 seamer in the country" Patel
  • Ajit "Damn it Morton.. What did my finger do to you?" Agarkar

Spinners:
  • Harbhajan "Anil Bhai, you do realize that I'm the No.1 spinner now, Don't ya?" Singh
  • Anil "Finally, someone sensible is heading the selectors" Kumble

Standby:
  • VRV "Hope Ajit's finger is as brittle as the Indian middle order.. no the WI middle order" Singh
Missing Names:
  • VVS "Fitness? What do you want me to do? Run a marathon" Laxman
  • Ramesh "Anil Bhai, you can't do this to me" Powar
  • Rudra Pratap "If they hadn't picked me for the Champions Trophy, I would have made it to SA" Singh

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Anonymous Pratyush 11:21 AM

Good ones.. you forgot Greg "South Africa is just another experiment" Chappell. ;)    



Anonymous Sandip 12:15 PM

Hilarious, I was planning to write something on same lines :-)    



Blogger vishnupavan 7:55 AM

Pratyush.. :) just another experiment..

Sandip.. glad you find it funny..    



Blogger The Enigma 6:31 PM

Top effort. I'm still laughing. Good work.    



Blogger Michael Higgins 5:23 AM

Hi Vishnupavan
Wasim "Why am I here? If I fail in the ODIs, would I be jeopardizing my test chances?" Jaffer
How many times have we seen this: a player does well in tests/odi and is given a chance in the other version and fails and is dropped completely. SS Das comes to mind.    



Blogger vishnupavan 7:48 AM

Enigma.. Thanks!

Micheal.. Yeah SS Das had a sad end to his international career.. he wasn't considered (Sehwag, Bangar and Parthiv opened) for the two tests in NZ in 2003-03, but was played as an opener in one of the ODI games... To his credit he top-scored for India in that low-scoring game.. but that ended up being his last international outing..    



Anonymous Anonymous 6:13 AM

I am tired of this cliche 'experiment' being used unfairly on Greg Chappell

Read this please :-

IN DEFENCE OF GREG CHAPPELL


By Qaiser Mohammad Ali

Wednesday November 1, 04:52 PM

The so-called millions of 'cricket experts' calling for coach Greg Chappell's head in the aftermath of India's Champions Trophy defeats are certainly not using their head; they are, get that right, simply being swayed by media reports, television commentators and often by highly misleading statistics. The fact is that we Indians are poor losers and, often, the public still poorer in their reaction. The passionate fans that they are cannot accept defeat as gracefully as they celebrate victories. Why can't we see that in any match one team wins and one loses? Another trend that is emerging is that Indian cricket fans are very selective in criticising people; they would, largely influenced by television commentators and media reports that are not always authentic and bordering on sensationalism, send certain people to the 'gallows' while shielding their favourites in cotton wool. So, was the Champions Trophy defeat the end of Indian cricket team? No, certainly not. Then why this hullabaloo over Chappell who tried to guide the team in a manner that many Indians would not like, simply because he works on premise of professionalism, honesty and sans regional bias. And, sadly, Indian fans, cricket administrators and the so-called experts cannot breathe cricket without inhaling the regional bias. And, mind you, regionalism is as ingrained in cricket as anyone else, and which has not done Indian cricket any good over the years. An eye-opening example of how much people in India look at cricket wearing glasses of regionalism: when the India 'A' team went to meet the then Home Minister L.K. Advani at his North Block office before leaving for Holland in 1998, the first question that the senior BJP leader popped up was: 'So, how many players are from Gujarat?' When Kirti Azad, the team manager and BJP's member of Delhi legislative assembly who had taken the team and a few journalists there, said none, Advani's next question was: 'And how many from Karnataka?' Advani was again disappointed. I, standing at handshaking distance from Advani, was aghast at hearing a national leader of eminence starting off his interaction with such regionally loaded questions. Sadly, that is how we Indians look at our cricket teams, our set up, our administration, our cricketing policies, our contracts, our selectors and every aspect pertaining to the great game - from the eyes of that ubiquitous regional angle. Now back to Chappell and India's ouster before the Champions Trophy semi-finals. The question that begs an answer is: Did India lose because of Chappell? Of course not, because a coach is never part of the playing XI, nor he forms strategies when players are on the field. Whatever he does he does it behind the closed doors of the dressing room. A coach's role ends where the boundary of a cricket field begins. So, when the Indian team steps inside the boundary, Rahul Dravid takes over completely. How batsmen bat, bowlers bowl and how fielders field has no invisible Chappell hand behind it. It's entirely up to the players - and not even up to Dravid - how do they perform. No one can help them on the field, neither the billions of dollars in the board's coffers nor the world's greatest strategy maker. Therefore, if India lost to the West Indies and Australia to stumble out of the Champions Trophy, it is the players who are entirely responsible for on-field performance, and not Chappell, or board president Sharad Pawar or secretary Niranjan Shah. They all are only facilitators and strategy makers; players are the executioners. That brings us to the alleged experiments by Chappell. First, let's remind us all of a fact: we have witnessed over the years that fans, experts and our administrators desist anything new attempted in Indian cricket. So when Chappell started trying out youngsters, people got a shock as it had never happened before; or even if it had happened at all, never so boldly. Because we never had any coach earlier with so much guts to try out youngsters and make people like Sachin Tendulkar and Dravid 'rest' from an international game. Chappell did it, and presumably with the consent of the team management. If no coach had the courage to do it earlier, it was largely because before Chappell and his predecessor John Wright, all of them had been former Indian players. And, let's accept another fact that no made-in-India coach can pursue a policy - leave along implement it - that is unconventional. We just simply cannot look beyond the established norms invisibly ingrained in the Indian cricket rulebook. Chappell tried to look beyond the traditional player producing centres, and into smaller cities and the countryside. And gave opportunities to the likes of Suresh Rainas, Munaf Patels, Rudra Pratap Singhs, Sreesanths, Piyush Chawlas, Robin Uthappas, most of whom come from lesser known places. Now, I can see a question coming up: 'These are all talented players. So had Chappell not been there, wouldn't the selectors have picked them, anyway?' Correct, sooner or later they would have been picked. But never so many in such a short time and it is unlikely that they would have been persisted with for so long. Pick up the record books and see that never before have so many players been given an opportunity in such a short period. What Chappell tried - and is still trying - to do is build a team, the bench strength, and the replacements for the top 30-plus senior players. And he cannot be faulted on this count as it is being done with an eye on the future of Indian cricket; it is not that Chappell is promoting these players to help them migrate to Australia when they mature! Suppose, if a senior player like Tendulkar or Dravid gets injured in the 2007 World Cup (with which Chappell's contract ends) or in any other series, who would replace them? You can only find an able replacement if there is a good bench strength. Is there anything wrong in doing something that will stand India in good stead? The biggest debate seems to be related to Irfan Pathan's batting position. Chappell, on seeing a hidden talented batsman in the left-arm pacer, made the left-hander bat at No. 3 often in one-dayers and a few times in Tests with mixed results. Let's face cold statistics: Pathan has batted 14 times at No. 3 in ODIs and scored 426 runs at a good average of 30.43 - is better than his overall career average of 25.03. He has also scored three half-centuries with a high of 83. Just to remind fans that it is not the first time a bowler is being tried at the top of the order. A certain Javagal Srinath, with much lesser batting credentials, was tried as a pinch hitter at No. 3 seven times not long ago, managing just 53 runs at a poor 16.86. He was also tried at No. 4 (once with an aggregate of 14), at No. 5 (49 in four ODIs at 12.25), at No. 6 (75 in five ODIs at 15.00), at No. 7 (61 in eight ODIs at 10.17), at No. 8 (61 in 16 ODIs at 5.08), and his record at the last three positions was no better. Wasn't that an experiment? And wasn't that a failed experiment? The question that begs an answer is that why experiments by previous Indian coaches' were not called experiments? Just because five of the six coaches who experimented with Srinath were all Indians -- Ajit Wadekar, Sandeep Patil, Madan Lal, Anshuman Gaekwad, Kapil Dev and Wright - no one castigated them despite the failed attempt? Strangely enough, most of these listed here are today calling Chappell's efforts to find a good pinch hitter an experiment. I would also like to know that when Pathan scored 93 runs in India's 188-run win while opening the innings against Sri Lanka in the Delhi Test in December 2005, how many people criticised Chappell for that move. Didn't they sing paeans for Pathan and Chappell? So, why does the picture change all of a sudden? While everyone decried the so-called experiment with Pathan, who is probably as talented with the bat as his ability with his left-arm swing bowling, how many of those television commentators flayed, for instance, Tendulkar for scoring 10 out of 26 balls in the critical Champions Trophy game against Australia Sunday? NONE -- neither on air nor in their newspaper columns, which most of them write. I strongly feel that Indian fans usually get swayed and influenced by media reports, especially news channels and their dubious daily polls, and commentators as invariably are retired international players. What they say on television is most often taken seriously by the masses - and at times by the other arms of the media -- and then there is a chain reaction. At times, television commentators cross the line of control (remember Navjot Sidhu faced an unprecedented reaction from the Indian team during the 2003 World Cup when he said that No. 14 was the perfect batting position for an out-of-form Ganguly, and Dean Jones recently lost his commentator's job for calling bearded Muslim South African batsman Hashim Amla a 'terrorist'). (Qaiser Mohammad Ali is sports editor with IANS. The views expressed here are personal. He can be reached at qaiser.ali@ians.in)    



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