A new, young captain at the helm in the form of Virat Kohli does not seem to have changed things too much in the Indian cricket establishment. Far from wholescale changes, what we are seeing is more of a business as usual, especially when it comes to picking new cricketers for the team. The present Team India carries a number of players whom Kohli has persisted with, rather than drop. Considering that Kohli has come to the captaincy on the back of huge expectations that he will transform the way Indian cricket is played, from the strategies implemented on field, to the very make-up of the team, changes were expected, but nothing seems to have gone into the policy framework for the future.
India is a big country with tens of thousands of young cricketers and yet we find the old stalwarts who have been dropped keep coming back into the reckoning. From Rohit Sharma, to Shikhar Dhawan, the names are not changing, new names are not emerging in India’s 15-member cricket squad for the three-Test home series against New Zealand. And if there was a name being bandied about, then that was of Gautam Gambhir, a veteran Indian batsman who had fallen out of favour for so long. Now that he is back in the runs in the domestic circuit, his name has again cropped up, and this is is signalling that for the BCCI, there is no depth to the Indian cricket establishment and the bench strength is likely to stay shallow.
With the Test matches against New Zealand starting from September 22 in Kanpur, the visitors’ job has been made easier as they can better measure the Indian teams strengths and weaknesses as there is hardly any new face in the line-up. At least for matches to be played in India, there is enough cause for experimentation to be carried out. Foreign teams find it virtually impossible to play on turning Indian tracks and if the establishment gets adventurous enough to blood players for the future, then surely that kind of policy needs to be worked on.
Considering that Sandeep Patil, one of the most explosive batsmen world has ever known, is the head selector and Virat Kohli, on current form the world’s best batsman, and they have picked a combination that smacks of a ‘playing safe’ policy. Ultimately, each and every passing era has been witness to the fact that hardly anyone is picked in the Indian squad with the future in the mind and ultimately, when replacements are tough to find, everyone starts running around looking for some. But considering that none have been actually prepared for the role, the task becomes tough and ultimately new boys are thrown into the hot cauldron of Tests and they invariably fall short and their confidence is destroyed as soon as they enter the field where they are unable to cope with the fiery reception by the opposition.
Indian fans expectations from Virat Kohli, and Sandeep Patil were many. Now, with another veteran in the form of coach Anil Kumble also in the mix, these have only increased. But with the Test series against New Zealand set to start, hardly anything is on the ground that shows Indian cricket is set for big change. Perhaps, the 2-0 victory in the recent series against the West Indies have dulled the senses in part. But can the BCCI sit back in stupor? Instead of playing a reactionary role can it not take up a pro-active one to lead India to the top in rankings and keep it there, where it rightly belongs. After all, in terms of resources, BCCI is the richest, in terms of population, India again leads. Surely, there is a cause to think out of the box.
Here is the Team India Test squad:
Virat Kohli (Capt), K L Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, M Vijay, Rohit Sharma, R Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan, Amit Mishra, Umesh Yadav.