It goes without saying that India lacks a good sporting culture. Most of the sports bodies in India are always at loggerheads with players or team management. What is indeed sad is the conduct of the world’s richest cricket body, BCCI. The Indian cricket body’s shabby treatment of women cricketers is well documented, however, the new developments in the advent of Shubhman Gill’s injury prove that the body is not too different while dealing with men’s cricket as well. Incompatibility and procrastination happen to be the main culprits in the latest episode involving Team India and the selection committee.
The problem started with the injury of Gill that ruled him out of the entire England tour. This resulted in the vacancy of a new opening partner to assist Rohit Sharma at the start of the innings. In the absence of an ideal replacement for the opening slot, Kohli and the team management requested through a letter to the BCCI to bring two players to England, Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal. Both these players are currently in Sri Lanka, where another Indian team is about to play an ODI and T20 series. However, the selection committee after a lot of dilly dally in responding to the letter finally rejected the request of the team in England. As per a report by the PTI, the request was declined by the committee as the selectors involved felt that the team has sufficient choices in Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul to replace Shubman Gill and draft the Bengal batsman Abhimanyu Easwaran in the side. This has left Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri in quandary. More on that later.
Recently when Sourav Ganguly, current BCCI boss, was asked about the issue of replacement, he merely put the ball in the selectors’ court and refrained from making any comments on the issue further. This is not what people expected when Ganguly took over the reins of the BCCI. The former captain, who was rightly credited with changing the face of Indian cricket, was supposed to bring in some reforms and professionalism into the BCCI. But nothing much has changed with regard to the conduct of the cricket body. Ideally, Ganguly should have intervened and addressed the issue instead of keeping Virat and co in dark. The issue has brought to the fore the harmony, the lack of it, between players and BCCI mandarins.
So, what options does India have in such a scenario? They have got two openers in the form of Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul. However, both have not been in good touch in Test cricket of late and the latter has not played a Test for the last one and a half years. For an important and tough series like England, the risk of playing out-of-form players is not worth taking. They have another option in the form of Abhimanyu Easwaran but he can’t open the innings. Also, whatever little the team management has seen of Easwaran they are convinced he is not yet ready for the big matches. This leaves them with the options of Agarwal and Rahul. The question here is not the lack of options, but the incompatibility between players and the selectors, who are also part of the BCCI. Kohli, being a captain, has every right to demand players of his choice and the selectors should oblige him because the captain has a better idea as to who is suitable and who is not. Hope such small issues do not hinder India’s prospects in a challenging series in the future.