This selection was just about the numbers
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Anil Kumble has a peculiar problem. Among the batsmen he doesn't know whom to drop and among the bowlers he doesn't know whom to pick! We reap as we sow! If you glorify batsmen, you don't produce bowlers. In the movies they want to become stars not extras. And so Kumble had to bowl seam-up in Bangalore. Great thinking, good variation, no option. If bowling seam-up and getting the ball to scuttle along on a low pitch was the way to win a Test, someone else should have been bowling those. If not at Kumble's end, at the other. So does it mean that there is no one to hit the deck hard, at a decent pace, at around the good length mark? Someone simple and unassuming, with a simple run-up and a focused mind? And so, as Kumble has re-discovered, the problem with having a big heart is that everything comes your way. As, I suspect, Rahul Dravid is going to discover in Australia!
So then as Australia, the spiritual home of hit-the-deck bowling, looms what are India's options going to be? Or is this a no-options selection? I'm trying to be optimistic here but I am struggling. Of the five areas selectors would typically look at; opening batting, middle order batting, wicket keeping, spin bowling and new-ball bowling (notice I haven't said quick bowling!), India seem to have options in two: middle order batting and wicket keeping. Of the two spinners, maybe three, realistically available, two were picked. But of the rest, it was a question of making the numbers, rather than sorting from them; of adding rather than deleting which is what a healthy selection situation should be.
The selectors had one opener and had to conjure three and whichever way you look at it, Sehwag's selection is about desperation, not inspiration. The only contender was Aakash Chopra and the fact that he wasn't picked confirms my old view that shortlists can rarely be read into. So that list of 24 was either a decoy for journalists or a boring academic exercise; the kind school boys would indulge in during a physics class when they don't understand much of what is going on. A third opener should have been picked, but clearly there isn't one in India. I hope Robin Uthappa is looking at this squad and hurting. Given the choices available he should have walked in, never has it been easier for an opener to make the Indian team, but he blew it with a string of ordinary performances for Karnataka. But the good news for him is that this is a shrinking market and selectors will have to pick from the tiny number that is available. If you are 18 and you are reading this, strap those pads on, walk out behind the fielders and take guard against the new ball.
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