Were the right probables picked?

Despite the high number, a few all-rounders are missing in the list, which is strange, given that the T20 format requires multi-dimensional cricketers.

The omission of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir from the T20 World Cup probables list is perhaps a clear indication that the selectors have more or less decided to shut the doors on them. In addition, the Pathan brothers have not found favour either which means that the selectors as well as the team management are looking at young and fit cricketers for the explosive format of the game. Before one gets to the nuts and bolts of the selectors’ decision, two questions have to be answered. Did the selectors assess the players by watching them in a T20 format? Are the performances in the last IPL good enough for picking the probables?

The answer to the first question is a big no as the list has been picked based on their current form in Ranji Trophy, a format that is totally on the other side of the spectrum. The fixtures committee could have scheduled the Mushtaq Ali Trophy (National T20 tournament) to provide the selectors the right platform to gauge the probables. After all, the probables are picked for the World Cup and hence it is only reasonable that the premier All-India tournament is held before the World Cup. As regards picking players based on their performances in the last IPL, one must realise that the IPL was played a fair while ago. This game is all about what a player is doing today and capable of doing tomorrow. For example, Varun Aaron has been picked in all formats as a reward for one or two good performances recently. Of course, current form is critical but consistency of form needs to be considered as well, let alone the past record of a player’s fitness.

If one were to study the probables list, it is fairly obvious that some have been included in recognition of their performances in a different format. It would have been a simple thing to pick 20 probables instead of 30. Despite the high number, a few all-rounders are missing in the list, which is strange, given that the T20 format requires multi-dimensional cricketers. Where are the likes of L. R. Shukla, Parvez Rasool, to name a few? Shukla has performed well in the current Ranji season and his contributions have made serious impact on the course of the game. Not that he has laboured to get his runs as his strike-rate is extremely healthy. Impact players are the ones needed in the T20 format but then acceptance of a player is subjective.

At a time when all-rounders are scarce, the limited talent that is available needs to be encouraged. Maybe they may not have the panache (at this point in time) but unless they are given the required confidence they will remain as domestic circuit bullies. Rasool was a part of the Indian team not long ago and he has made useful contributions as well. The only element which might have gone against these two cricketers is that they have not figured regularly in the IPL. It is not always easy to please the selectors and similarly it is not easy for the selectors to please all players. But to ignore multi-dimensional cricketers in a format that is ideally suited for such players is inexplicable.

The selectors could have avoided criticism by restricting the number as the extra picks have put them in a delicate situation. Besides, they have faltered in not suggesting to the BCCI the need for a T20 tournament prior to the selection. It has not been a case of different players for different formats, which is rather unfortunate. As for Shukla he can take solace from the fact that he won the best all-rounder award from the BCCI and his State team, Bengal, put up a good show in the Ranji Trophy.