The shotgun selection theory

IF India are to do well in next year's World Cup they must finalise their party now. In the last two years India have played 61 one-day internationals and used 42 different players.

Of those 42 players, 15 have been newcomers. Their record is 32 won, 29 lost. Barely 50 per cent and not good enough to win a World Cup.

The Indian selectors have continued this hit and miss policy and 37 players, including 20 debutants have represented the country in 24 Tests.

India never has and never will have over 40 players good enough to represent the country in a two-year period. And neither will Australia or any other country for that matter. The Indian selectors are using the shot gun theory, firing double barrels and hoping someone will click or hit.

Australia used this method unsuccessfully in the early eighties and when I took over the coaching of my country there were 44 players who had represented their country at either Test or one-day internationals.

This was ridiculous considering at any given time with only six teams playing in the Sheffield Shield competition it meant only 72 players were available for selection at any one time.

This left 28 players running around in the Sheffield Shield who hadn't represented their country.

It was a crazy policy which was remedied shortly after when the Australian selectors tried to stick and support the sixteen players who they thought were the best in the country.

This policy worked well for Australia though it took time and patience before Australia became a consistent winning combination.

I would hate to see just how many Indian players now running around in the Ranji Trophy have donned the colours of their country. If Australia could achieve 44 internationals from 6 teams just how many have India from over 20 first class teams.

Team selection should not be a hit and miss affair. It must be programmed to suit the style, mentality and method of the players.

It will differ from country to country and the biggest threat selectors can fall into is trying to copy the style and method of other teams.

Fashion, fads and theories thrive in the pressure zone of ODIs. The two most popular in recent times have been the desire to play bits and pieces allrounders and pinch hitters.

Theoretically allrounders should be ideal for ODIs. They are, if they are good enough to be in the team either as a batsman or bowler. If they are then their other ability is a bonus.

Unfortunately too many allrounders are not good enough as they only do a little bit of this and that and neither is good enough to warrant their selection in the team.

The other popular theory is the Sri Lankan approach to opening the batting with thrashers.

In actual fact, Sri Lanka never used two thrashers consistently. What they had was one, Jayasuriya, and that was his natural way of playing whether it be Test or one-day cricket.

The rest of their batting line up is good with solid, technically correct players.

Australia are most fortunate to have Adam Gilchrist, but once again this is his natural way of playing.

I was pleased to see Sachin Tendulkar drop down the batting order. A great player, Sachin will be successful no matter where he bats.

He would be more valuable down the list for he then would be able to control the game better and be the not out man in the push to victory.

It should always be remembered it is not how fast you score the runs. But how many you score that wins matches. I would also drop Sourav Ganguly down the list.

He is o.k. as an opener on flat dry surfaces, but struggles when the ball bounces.

His dislike and discomfort against the short ball is well known and he will be earmarked for many such deliveries in South Africa.

The Indian selectors must pick all ODI teams for the next six months on the basis of whether they will succeed in South Africa.

That means that batsmen must be capable, technically of handling pace bowlers and be prepared to take a few on the body if that is the best way to survive.

The wickets will generally have more grass on them which means the ball will not lose its shine or hardness.

As a result the threads of the new ball, (and a white ball does more through the air than the red), is much greater and I expect scores to be much lower than those which are obtainable on the flat tracks of the sub-continent.

This should mean that early wickets will fall and the other batsmen must make sure they give their bowler enough runs to bowl at.

In South Africa on certain wickets, 180 or 200 can be defended. Tactics are going to be vital and coach John Wright must ensure the batsmen are fed enough information and common sense to get the most out of any situation.

India and the bowlers in particular are prone to become overexcited when they are under pressure or given a helpful wicket to bowl on.

Patience is a great virtue in cricket and whether attacking or defending the Indian bowlers must stay focussed if India are to do well in South Africa 2003.