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Tuesday , February 14, 2012 at 12 : 37

Abandon silly rotation policy for batsmen


Sachin Tendulkar did not play the ODI in Adelaide. I cannot imagine a sillier decision could have been made on the grounds of satisfying the compulsions of a vague rotation policy that was unknown in Indian cricket until some souls in the think tank began articulating it recently as a panacea for all the ills that have bedeviled India in the last seven months or so.

Rotation should be the last thing on the mind of a side that is just about beginning to leave a long losing streak behind. Regardless of the fine result at the Adelaide Oval where India beat Australia for the first time, that too in a record chase for the venue, the principle stands that rotation is a nebulous concept in international cricket. It brings into the picture various other issues like television rights holder's views on stars skipping matches.

Funnily enough, who did they rest but their star batsman who is a big draw in international cricket? Does a 38-year-old batting legend need rest from an ODI when any workload he has been accepting has been of his own volition for several years now? Also, it is not as if he has been swamped with work in the last couple of weeks since he does not play the Twenty20s anyway.

The last may not have been heard on this sensitive subject that has been exacerbated by all kinds of views being expressed from within the team and outside. Apparently, there was a load of confusion over the issue within the team itself with a young player, who was put up as a shield before the media, claiming ignorance of any team policy having been laid out in this matter.

What makes the whole thing risible is the team has been talking mostly about three of its senior most batsmen when it comes to rotation. The trio is hardly made up of types who like to rest while on a tour. If they so much as wish to take rest, they skip tours and they do so because they can. They have not been under pressure for their places in a long time until, maybe, now.

It won't be surprising if the team turns around and says Tendulkar himself wanted to rest. Such has been the public perception of India in most recent times that no one will give a fig what they say in their own defence anymore. It is understandable if a team under pressure seeks to draw a veil over such matters but that has not been the case. Various opinions have already been expressed in public about this silly rotation policy.

The issue is not about personal agendas either. No one would like to stress the point that a flat and true Adelaide pitch would have been the best possible surface for the long awaited century of centuries. Indian cricket may have moved on from a phase of an obsession with that elusive hundred. It's as well that team renaissance has become as important as the need for the BCCI to sort out all its relationship problems with other stakeholders.

The point is a batsman needs much less rest than fast bowlers who expend far more energy not only in bowling their quota of overs in a day. Modern cricketers train so much that fast bowlers are a tribe most at risk from over exposure to the taxing schedule It would be logical if they are given strategic time off during a tri-series in Australia which is about the most draining competition in world cricket, both physically and mentally.

What Indian cricket and India suffer from most is in the management of fast bowling resources. In today's cricket setting, this is a tricky proposition at all times. Where the BCCI has lagged the most is in finding a way to ration out the work done by fast bowlers, particularly the young ones. And instead of a good plan to rest their fast bowlers in turns, what the team did was to rest a star batsman.

If the plan had been put in place only to accommodate a young batsman in Rohit Sharma, who is struggling to shake off his tendency to play loose or lazy strokes at the most inappropriate times after getting his eye in, then maybe it would have been understood. Since the young man once again fell into a trap with his eyes open, his inclusion takes us neither here nor there.

It would serve the interests of India far more if it fields the best combination from batsmen fit and available for selection at any given time. It would make sense if the bowlers face rotation. Also, the stars would have to make some sacrifices to play in order to extend their star value to the spectators at the venue and to television viewers. Here is hoping Adelaide was the last occasion on which an Indian batsman was rested while being on tour and fit and ready to play.


More about R Mohan

Ramaswamy Mohan, one of the country's leading cricket writers, fell in love with the game after watching his first Test match in 1960 as a 10-year-old. So fascinated was he with cricket that he dedicated his early life to becoming cricket correspondent of The Hindu, a post he held with acclaim for close to 20 years while reporting live 130 Test matches, five World Cups and over 300 One-Day Internationals. Having risen to Resident Editor at the Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, he still remains a keen student of the game who follows the happenings in Indian cricket with a particular relish.