Where did Mayank Agarwal go wrong?

Former India cricketer Subramaniam Badrinath questions the selection of Rohit Sharma in Tests, Anshuman Gaekwad presses for ‘humble’ communication.

Mayank Agarwal, whose arduous wait for an India call-up ended when he was picked for the West Indies Test series, has been dropped for the Tour Down Under.   -  vivek bendre

Highest run-getter in Ranji Trophy. Highest run-getter in Vijay Hazare Trophy. Three centuries, a double hundred for India A. Karnataka batsman Mayank Agarwal ticked all boxes in the domestic season to be Team India-ready.

In return, all he received was a call-up for the Test series against Windies —10 months since the completion of the season — only to warm the bench as a reserve, even after the first Test (over in three days) established the weak opponent. 

With no Test cricket happening after the tour of Australia till the World Cup in 2019, how would one justify his axe for the Tour Down Under? 

Syed Mushtaq Ali 2017/18  — 258 runs at 28.66, three half-centuries

Ranji Trophy 2017/18 — 1160 runs at 105.45, two half-centuries, five hundreds

Vijay Hazare 2017/18 — 723 runs at 90.37, four fifties, three hundreds

Former India and Tamil Nadu batsman Subramaniam Badrinath relates to Mayank’s psychological space at the moment. A contemporary of Virat Kohli, Badrinath knows the ordeal of being left out despite performances. 

“I can actually relate to him. He is not at fault. He has been performing and getting runs. He earned his place, did not play a game and now, he is out of the team. I would like to ask the selectors what exactly is the process? Is it just to keep him satisfied that they got him into the side? What are they trying to do here?” Badrinath told Sportstar on Saturday.

READ| Mayank's mental discipline adds value to team, says coach

In 2008, the then chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar had preferred Kohli to Badrinath which started the current Indian captain’s career.  Badrinath also questioned the inclusion of India’s limited-overs expert Rohit Sharma in the Test squad. “We all know that he has not done well in red-ball cricket. Why is he there? He is a different player when it comes to the white ball, you can call him the best opener. In red-ball, he has just not been able to deliver.”

“From Mayank’s point of view, he has to control the controllables. Selection is beyond his circle, and he needs to keep working on his game wherever he plays. It will be hard and mentally tough but that’s all he can do. He needs to keep enjoying his game,” he added.

READ | Mayank credits India A sojourn for international call-up

Selection process

Back in the day, cricketers would earn the India ticket through Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy but IPL changed the dynamics. A player is assessed the most and gets maximum visibility in the cash-rich T20 blockbuster. 

“The formats should be differentiated. People who are playing only one format aren’t getting a due. A player like Cheteshwar Pujara or a Murali Vijay, even Mayank, has no other chance to prove a point than going back to domestic cricket – to make his comeback. For somebody like Rohit, it is easier as he also plays limited-overs.

“The formats are getting crisscrossed. It has to change. First-class cricket needs to be recognised properly. There should be a process in place. There is no process. A process and system are bigger than individuals. If that is in place, results will come,” said Badrinath.

READ: Into the mind of Mayank Agarwal

‘Talk to the selector’

Anshuman Gaekwad, who has played for India, coached the side and has also been a selector, feels Mayank should talk to the chairman of selectors and sort it out. 

“Only 15 or 16 players can get selected. It depends what scheme of things the selectors have in mind. It happened with me in 1981 where I missed the Australia tour. I had scored 1,300 runs in Ranji and Duleep. At that juncture, you feel offended or neglected but you have to look up. Maybe this is not enough and you got to get better. You have to compel the selector to select you. If you sulk, the game is over for you,” he said.

READ: Mayank Agarwal — the number man unplugged!

Gaekwad praised Mayank’s game but sensed there could be something missing.  “Every team wants their side to do well, so they want the best ones. There could be something lacking somewhere. He should go and talk to the chairman of the selection committee in a humble manner and find out where he should improve."

Different perspectives

Having gone through the entire selection process in different capacities, he revealed the inner side of a selector.

“The requirements also comprise when and where. If you are playing in Bangladesh, the requirement is different from that of Australia and New Zealand, or England. It all goes accordingly. I used to be disappointed as a player when dropped. When I became the selector, I realised what I thought was wrong and the selectors were right.

"As coach, what I wanted in the team is what I thought was right, but at times, the selectors thought otherwise. As a selector, I remember talking to the players when they were dropped,” he added.