More Questions Than Answers: The inconsistent and fickle Indian selection committee decisions

Indian selection committee

The Indian selection committee headed by former India wicket-keeper MSK Prasad has been in the firing line in recent times. They’ve been in the hot seat facing a barrage of questions and criticism for multiple reasons.

One of the big reasons has been the lack of communication. The likes of Karun Nair, Murali Vijay and most recently, Kedar Jadhav have come out and spoken about the selector’s lack of communication when they were left out of particular squads.

Karun Nair and Murali Vijay have openly criticised the lack of communication after being axed from the Test team. Nair was dropped without even playing a single Test match in England. On the other hand, Vijay faced the axe after his dismal four innings in the first two Tests.

The inconsistent and fickle Indian selection committee decisions

While Kedar Jadhav was the latest casualty of the aforementioned ‘communication’ issue. Jadhav sustained a hamstring injury in the final of the Asia Cup and was subsequently sidelined for close to a month. However, he surprised a few people when he turned up to play for India ‘C’ against India ‘A’ in a Deodhar Trophy game at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.

Despite proving his fitness, Jadhav was not picked for the ODIs against Windies and he was left bemused. “We did not pick Kedar because of his history of fitness. There have been occasions earlier where he has come back fit and then broke down, a case in point being the Asia Cup last month,” MSK Prasad was quoted saying on Jadhav’s snub.

However, about 20 hours later, Kedar Jadhav finds himself back in the team for the fourth and fifth ODIs. The question is if the selectors wanted to give players a decent run to prove their fitness, how does the decision change inside 24 hours?

After last night’s selection, the selectors continued to be in the firing line. In what was a delayed selection meeting on the 26th of October, MSK Prasad strode out of the selection meeting and announced multiple squads. Every time an Indian team is announced, the social media is abuzz. There is a lot of chatter that goes around the selection of a particular player.

In total, six teams were announced. India’s two T20I squads to face West Indies (at home) and Australia (in Australia) in November. Three India ‘A’ squads were also released for their upcoming New Zealand tour. One 50-over side and a couple of first-class sides (with the first one consisting of Test regulars who are slated to play just the first of the three four-day games).

One of the biggest talking points was the exclusion of former India skipper MS Dhoni from the T20 squads. Dhoni has been struggling for form for quite some time now and the selectors have decided to give the likes of Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik a decent go in the shortest format.

However, there were questionable decisions.

Rohit Sharma has been drafted back into the Test team after 10 months. The Mumbai batsman has hardly played red-ball cricket and he has been picked based on his white-ball form. In fact, since January this year, he has not played a single red-ball game. Thus, his selection has created a stir.

Rohit Sharma has been picked ahead of Karun Nair who was India’s incumbent batsman in England. However, with no communication whatsoever, Nair has fallen off the radar. He has lost his place to India’s limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma and Hanuma Vihari.

“We have followed a pattern in our selection process. Each and every national contender is in the queue and we don’t believe that anyone can jump the queue. Mayank is a wonderful kid and he completely understood what I explained to him.” This is what MSK Prasad said in March this year after Agarwal was not picked for the Nidahas Trophy despite his stellar run of form.

One has to feel for Mayank Agarwal. He has knocked the door down with his some extremely consistent performances. But like his Karnataka teammate Karun Nair, he has faced the axe without getting an opportunity.

In September, the chairman of selectors confirmed that the Karnataka batsman would get his due soon. However, Agarwal was picked in the Indian team just once (for the Tests against Windies). Even during that series, he warmed the benches and now, finds himself out of reckoning. He will once again have to go back to domestic cricket and impress the selectors all over again.

Hardik Pandya has been out for more than a month now. He is on the road to recovery after he suffered a back injury in the Asia Cup. MSK Prasad revealed that the all-rounder has is yet to recover fully and hence, he was omitted. “As of now, till November 15th he (Hardik Pandya) is actually not [available], we’ll have to see after that,” the chairman of selectors told.

However, the seam-bowling all-rounder is in the 50-over India ‘A’ squad which is scheduled to play New Zealand at the end of the year. If Pandya was really unfit, on what grounds is he in the ‘A’ team? This is another debatable decision.

Parthiv Patel has scored one fifty in his last 10 competitive innings and yet he finds himself as the second wicket-keeper for the Australia Tests. KS Bharat scored a brilliant ton against Australia ‘A’ recently. He has done consistently well in domestic cricket as well and yet he is nowhere in the picture.

The fast bowlers in limited-overs cricket have been shuffled around. Apart from Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, there have been six other pacers who’ve played ODI cricket this year. But none of them have played more than 4 ODIs and none of them inspired any sort of confidence. Hence, there seems to be quite a bit of confusion in the selectors’ minds. So, finally, who are India’s backup bowlers in limited-overs cricket?

Despite a big 4-match Test series against Australia coming up, both Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah have been picked in the T20 squads. The selectors have been pretty negligent about that fact. An injury here and there to any one of the premier pacers ahead of the Test series could hamper India’s chances.

The Indian selectors have been really inconsistent and fitful. These inconsistencies might be sending out wrong signals to the players. Imagine if you are Mayank Agarwal. What more can you do to make the squad?

This constant chopping and changing hasn’t helped anyone. It’s high time MSK Prasad and Co.  showed some continuity and regularity in the selection process.