Square pegs in all-round hole
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Thanks to injury and poor form, a solution for India's recurring No.7 problem has remained elusive
Amidst the timeless, and compelling, beauty of Roger Federer at Wimbledon, and the clinical precision of Spain at the Euro, Indian cricket's short holiday was barely missed. Now, another season, and another tour of Sri Lanka, looms, an Indian team has been announced and familiar issues have been brushed under the carpet. Little changes.
Meanwhile there has been a flood of Tendulkar interviews; more, I suspect, because there was the offer of a visit to Germany rather than any major issues that needed airing. And the selectors bowed deferentially to a player's choice, seemingly unconcerned about the precedent they set. If there is a long term plan to ease Tendulkar into a smaller work schedule, it must remain a secret. Indeed, our selectors have been extraordinarily shy of discussing careers with senior players. No one talked to Dravid about his plans twelve months ago and I will be very surprised if anyone has sat down with a Laxman or a Zaheer or, dare anyone say, a Tendulkar, to discuss the length of their services to Indian cricket. We remain committed to a reactive mode of management. We don't like foreseeing situations, we like handling them as they come.
And so, after a brief and, to be honest, failed flirtation with the all-rounder, India have gone back to what they like best — playing with seven batsmen and hoping two or three of those get through with bowling ten overs. It is not a new situation. In the phase from 2002-04 when India played some excellent 50-over cricket, Rahul Dravid kept wickets and a combination of Ganguly, Sehwag or Yuvraj (or even Dinesh Mongia) bowled ten hesitant overs. And at the 2011 World Cup, Yuvraj covered that weakness. In between, and thereafter, India have tried all three contenders for that slot: the Pathan brothers and Ravindra Jadeja. A solution has been elusive.
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