Stuart Binny handed a raw deal

Had Binny been given an opportunity and failed to impress in India’s white flannels, his omission would have been understood. However, Binny was overlooked after being made to fetch drinks all through the two-month long tour to the West Indies.

Stuart Binny

Stuart Binny had been at the receiving end of being ignored for home assignments but only because the selectors and the team management didn’t feel the need for a pace-bowling all-rounder in the squad.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Whether Hardik Pandya deserves to be in India’s Test squad is a completely different topic of discussion but the Baroda all-rounder’s selection does seem unfair to Stuart Binny. After all, the Karnataka all-rounder for a better part of the last three years has been the prime stakeholder for the pace-bowling all-rounder’s slot.

Had Binny been given an opportunity and failed to impress in India’s white flannels, his omission would have been understood. However, the fact that Binny was overlooked after being made to fetch drinks all through the two-month long tour to the West Indies earlier this season does question the rejigged selection panel’s decision to look beyond him for options.

While Binny was a certainty in the scheme of things of the previous selection panel – headed by Sandeep Patil, the new chief selector, M.S.K. Prasad, seems to have preferred Pandya over Binny for a variety of reasons.

“If you look at the three all-rounders we have – Stuart Binny, Hardik Pandya or Rishi Dhawan – when it comes to this particular series, and if you want to have one bowler who can really bat and this is where he (Pandya) scores above Stuart Binny. He is a much better bowler than Stuart Binny and batting he is also doing really well,” Prasad said after announcing the squad for the first two of the five Tests against England on Wednesday.

“Stuart is also being considered but as of now, with form and fitness and other aspects, we feel that Hardik is a much better option.”

Such justification would be a severe jolt for Binny, especially in the wake of the message that was passed on to him by team coach Anil Kumble. According to Binny, when he was omitted for the three-Test series against New Zealand, Kumble had called him up and asked him to return to domestic cricket “because I could be called up at any point. That was the message that was passed on to me”.

Binny had been at the receiving end of being ignored for home assignments but only because the selectors and the team management didn’t feel the need for a pace-bowling all-rounder in the squad. In fact, he was quite impressed with the manner in which Kumble had struck a dialogue with him.

“The message has been put across to me before but I don’t think it was put across the way it was this time,” Binny had said last week after scoring a sterling 156 to set up Karnataka’s victory against Assam in a Ranji Trophy tie in Mumbai.

“It was very clear about what I needed to do. I needed to go and play some domestic cricket. I was just sitting on the bench for three months in the West Indies, rotting. But I needed to spend some time in the middle. You can have a hundred net sessions but it’s not the same as playing a game.”

Hopefully, either Kumble or Prasad will dial Binny’s number one more time and at least offer him a reasonable explanation.