The national cricket selection committee needs to be lauded for giving Team India the best possible group of probables to defend their ICC World Cup crown in Australia and New Zealand.

The selectors, led by 1983 World Cupper Sandeep Patil have chosen not to tread an emotional path and kept some of the biggest names in Indian cricket out of contention for world cricket’s blue riband event in the southern hemisphere next year.

Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh didn’t do enough in domestic cricket to knock hard on the door of selection, although Yuvraj Singh (33), the youngest member in this excluded group could have been penciled in on the basis of his vast experience and ability to be sharp in the field.

The common factor in the five big exclusions is that they are past their best years, and youth coupled with performance can never be ignored. They have been great players, served India well and not finding a place in the list of World Cup probables shouldn’t make them lesser players.

Indian cricket has had its share of bad publicity through the spot-fixing controversy, but the fact that the country is flushed with talent must be considered a huge plus. The batting group led by seniors Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli looks formidable and has good back-up strength, while the bowling attack led by Ishant Sharma is exciting and promising, which in a way negates the absence of solid experience.

Zaheer would have been a sure-shot inclusion had he been fit but even the most accomplished of players cannot go on forever. Zaheer, just like Yuvraj, has been around since 2000 and 14 years is a long time in international cricket.

Even if Team India don’t meet with success in Australia and New Zealand, at least they can say that they went about their job with zest and commitment, two essential qualities needed to be a top-class fielding outfit. That in itself will vindicate the selectors’ pro-youth policy.