India’s National Team Cricket Selectors Must do Better
World Cup series recently completed in England is proof the think tank didn’t get it right
Some people have been saying that cricket is losing its spectator appeal. They are, however, wrong. The 2019 Cricket World Cup final commanded a live satellite UK audience of over 15.4 million viewers. 8.92 million tuned in for the beginning of the historic tiebreaker at 19:30.
The match that grabbed the most ever viewers worldwide was India versus Pakistan. In terms of linear TV, there were 273 million viewers - more than another 50 million watched by digital TV. Team India marched on to reach the semi-finals where of course they fell to New Zealand by a mere 18 runs.
The World Cup ODI series, as we now know, was won by England who beat Australia in the Super Over.
The other epic cricket series is, of course, the Ashes which is contested periodically between England and Australia. The term "Ashes" originated after Australia's first win on English soil back in 1882. The Sporting Times newspaper published a mock obituary mourning that English cricket had died with the defeat; that its body was to be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.
This year, the pundits forecast that the weather would play a big part and that it would favour England. However, it was not to be, and Australia retained the Ashes by drawing the five-match test.
So, what is next for the Indian cricket team? Well, first of all, it appears that the Indian cricket think tank has to get its act together. Looking back at the T20 series and the team that India fielded against South Africa, it is evident that the selectors did not pick the best candidates. The combinations in batting and bowling were far short of perfect.
The World Cup series recently completed in England is proof that the think tank didn’t get it right. There were only four batsmen who really deserved their selection. Of the others, questions have to be asked.
Rishabh Pant, the 21-year-old Delhi Daredevils' player, is yet to prove himself as a top-quality batsman on the international stage - particularly when it comes to the T20 format. His strike rate is marginally above 100. Not what you would expect for a power hitter.
Hardik, Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, and Washington Sunder were presumably chosen to provide depth to India’s batting. But when it came to the crunch in the last match, they were found lacking.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were both overlooked by the selectors. It is a puzzle. It’s possible they were rested, but why, one can only speculate. It easy to say in hindsight, but surely, they would have been better choices than Krunal Pandya or Washington Sunder? They are, after all both naturals in terms of the T20 game.
As far as the position of wicketkeeper is concerned Rishabh Pant is thought by many to be the natural successor to Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the limited over game. But he has come under a lot of criticism; especially for his recent below-par performance in the West Indies.
There is much to be sorted out before the next T20 World Cup, and the sooner the Indian selectors realise that and start acting on it, the better.