It's appraisal time, imagine you are Jalaj Saxena and Faiz Fazal

Cricket fans quickly latched on to the tweets posted after the squads for India A’s matches against Sri Lanka A and the West Indies A were announced on Tuesday.

Faiz Fazal amassed 752 runs last season for Vidarbha, the team he captains.   -  R. V. Moorthy

“What have I done terribly wrong to deserve this?” tweeted Jalaj Saxena. Then came one from Vidarbha’s twice Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup-winning captain, Faiz Fazal, who tweeted, “Did we win Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup back to back?”

Cricket fans quickly latched on to the tweets, more so their timing. Both were posted after the squads for India A’s matches against Sri Lanka A and the West Indies A were announced on Tuesday.

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Saxena and Fazal had not made the cut. They did not elaborate, but fan support poured in for both.

Saxena, a Kerala all-rounder, has consistently been one of the top consistent performers in domestic cricket. He amassed 551 runs and took 28 wickets in the Ranji Trophy last season.

Fazal too has been a consistent performer for Vidarbha, amassing 752 runs last season.

 

Former India international and Vidarbha coach, Chandrakant Pandit, believes both Fazal and Saxena deserved to be in the side.

“Domestic cricket is organised by the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) to find some good talents. There are players who have been performing consistently, and not just in one season. Both Faiz and Jalaj have been performing consistently for the last three-four years. They deserve to get selected, if not in the main team then in the A teams at least,” Pandit told Sportstar on Wednesday.

“They must be given opportunities and only then they can feel motivated. Faiz has already played for India (against Zimbabwe in 2016) and he wants to comeback. Jalaj has been doing well. They need to get rewarded for their performances,” Pandit, who was earlier Kerala's coach, said.

 

He agreed with the accepted idea that having A teams is to blood young players, but made it clear that performance should be the last word for selection. “Age criteria should not be there, because there is no age bar for getting into the Indian team. If you are performing well for three-four years and even then you are not awarded, you will feel demotivated,” Pandit said.

Saxena is 32 years old, while Fazal is 33.

Since the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season, Saxena has scored over 300 runs each year, including 821 and 768 runs on two separate seasons. He also claimed 45, 39 and 44 wickets in the last three seasons, respectively.

Chandrakant Pandit: "[Jalaj Saxena and Faiz Fazal] need to get rewarded for their performances." Photo: Vivek Bendre

 

Despite this track record, he played only four List A matches and four first-class games for India representational sides. Though he was picked by Delhi Capitals for the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season, he stayed on the bench.

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Fazal’s 752 runs in Ranji Trophy last season came in 11 matches at an average of 50.13. He did not feature in the IPL this season.

So, are the selectors giving more importance to IPL performances over domestic tournaments?

Pandit differs. “I don’t think too many players are here from the IPL. Domestic cricket needs to be taken seriously. Players coming from the tournament should be given the first criteria,” Pandit, who coached Vidarbha to its consecutive Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup titles, said.

The India A team will feature in two four-day and five one-day matches against Sri Lanka A from May 25, while the three four-day and five one-day matches against West Indies A will begin from July 11.