Selectors cannot ignore Ranji performances
After being down and out in the recently concluded Test series in Australia, one thing is clear for Indian cricket: change is imminent, sooner than later. The illustrious trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are not going to stay for too much longer and the selectors must be scratching their heads to find suitable replacements.
For India the transition phase is around the corner and the time has come to press the alarm button. Australia went through the same stage a year ago and now they seem to have found a firm footing. They took some bold decisions, brought in new players and gave them the faith that they were made to play on the big stage and the result is there for everyone to see.
In order to unearth the right talent for the future, the Indian selectors have to take performances in the Ranji Trophy seriously and blood players for the top level and more importantly give them a longer run. Apart from Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav till recently, we had been consistently persisting with a fixed lot of pacers. Same was the case with the batsmen. Other than Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh the selectors rarely, if at all, tried out any other new batsman from the domestic circuit in the middle order.
It would be unfair on the cricketers playing in the domestic circuit to say that there is dearth of talent. Take for instance the recently concluded Ranji Trophy season, in which Robin Bist of Rajasthan topped the batting charts with 1034 runs at an average of 86.16 and TP Sudhindra of Madhya Pradesh the bowling with impressive figures of 40 wickets from seven matches at an average of 18.70. But I'm afraid when the selectors meet to pick the team for the upcoming series, these two names won't even feature in their discussion.
Bist and Sudhindra were not the lone performers this season, there were players who impressed with their skills. Rituraj Singh, Pankaj Singh, Ashok Dinda, Vineet Saxena, Suryakumar Yadav and Naman Ojha are a few. If these players are not given a break at the right time, frustration will creep in and surely that will tell in their performance. An athlete in any sport aims to represent his country and in order to achieve that goal he strives hard and puts in that extra bit of effort. Similarly if a cricketer playing in the domestic circuit doesn't get his due, then his motivation can be shattered and very soon he could give up.
In the 2010-11 Ranji season, S Badrinath of Tamil Nadu scored 922 runs from nine matches and got a call-up for national duty, but was not persisted for a long time. Similarly in the same season Bhargav Bhatt claimed 47 wickets at an average of 21.57 and guess what, he went unheard of. Moreover, Manish Pandey of Karnataka in 2009-10 finished as the top scorer with 882 runs at an average of 63.00 and added to that a great run in the IPL, but unfortunately all these performances failed to impress the selectors.
If a strong performance in domestic tournaments such as the Ranji Trophy makes a case in point to earn a call-up, then the selectors just can't turn a blind eye. Rather they should be far sighted and groom young talent for the future before it is too late.