From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.21 :: May. 26, 2011

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ON THE BALL / W.V. RAMAN COLUMN

Consistent performers rewarded

The selectors have sent a strong message that consistent performances in the domestic circuit will be the only option to earn a call-up to the National side and the IPL will only serve to supplement year-long performances and not provide a short cut to the Indian team.

K. PICHUMANI

S. Badrinath makes a comeback.

The Indian selection committee deserves to be commended for its collective ability to learn from its mistakes in the past and also for resisting the temptation to include the current flavours of the nation, who are the leading performers in the ongoing IPL.

A couple of cricketers got their India caps based on their IPL performances alone, but instead of making it count they have plunged into an abyss by disregarding other formats of cricket, mainly the domestic circuit. The selectors have sent a strong message that consistent performances in the domestic circuit will be the only option to earn a call-up to the National side and the IPL will only serve to supplement year-long performances and not provide a short cut to the Indian team. While all this is highly remarkable, I for one am not too pleased with the fact that the younger lot has allowed the selectors to go back to S. Badrinath and Parthiv Patel.

I don't want the readers to think I am displeased with the return of Badri and Patel, who have been in the wilderness and not certain about their future. I have spent four seasons with Badri feeling as bad as he did every time he was ignored for a younger lad. And as much as I am pleased for him to have got a second opportunity, the likes of Saurav Tiwary, Manish Pandey and Shikhar Dhawan have let themselves down very badly. These guys shot into the limelight in the IPL and though Tiwary was picked for the Indian team, he was subsequently dropped for poor performance.

Form can be like political power, but attitude and ability are inherent attributes that one either has it in him or does not. Tiwary has to understand that his over-reliance on the IPL is likely to leave him stranded in a no-man's land sooner rather than later.

No sooner was he picked for a whopping sum by one of the franchisees in IPL-4 than he decided not to waste his time playing a duration game. Getting carried away at an impressionable age is understandable, but to leave one's team during the middle of the game is blasphemous. For a young man who is yet to even get his name on the Indian scorecard half a dozen times, Tiwary was allowed to get away lightly for his gross misdemeanour. If Tiwary acted on the cockiness that financial security can sometimes foster, Manish Pandey reacted badly enough and severely dented his form credentials in fighting for what he thought was his value in IPL. Amidst all the money, glamour and the rest, these two youngsters somehow forgot that they need to go flat out to don the national colours. While at least Tiwary will have the satisfaction of being one of the top paid IPL players, Pandey has lost out on all the good work he had done to get noticed by the National selectors.

On the other hand, Badrinath has kept his fitness going despite getting into his thirties and has forced the selectors to pick him thanks to the sheer weight of his scores. When you say scores while talking about Badri, you mean one who puts up runs on the board even as he sleeps. That's been his level of consistency in the last three seasons. The much ignored batsman of recent times made it a point to make the life of the selectors miserable by notching up runs in every format of the game. The “X” factor was missing yes, but the selectors had to agree that there was no way that they were going to ignore him any longer. Of course, let's not forget that the selectors are riding on the back of a memorable World Cup triumph and so it is a much easier time to justify things to the press without arousing their investigative nostrils too much.

As much as Badri has been rewarded for his performances in the domestic circuit, it remains to be seen how long he will be accorded the “wanted” status in the Indian dressing room. His recall has been the result of the established players resting and if Team India is in full force, the equation will change. Badri will be aware of that and he will be considered as the poor relative at the wedding until he makes big runs at the highest level. But will he get enough opportunities is the big question. It is a sort of a tight-rope walk for Badrinath and even his legendary patience will be tested severely. He has drawn a lot of inspiration from Mike Hussey and is hoping to emulate him. I for one hope to see him get a couple of centuries as nothing less will extend his stay in the team. It might sound harsh but it is a reality and Badrinath himself will be aware of it.



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