Less than a year ago, MS Dhoni and Andrew Strauss were anticipating a high octane Test series battle that pitted the World No 1 Test nation (India) against the World No 2 (England).
While the Englishmen have retained their top rating, India have slipped to fifth position. Sure, the absurdity in the ranking shows when one notices that England are still on top despite losing 0-3 to Pakistan and drawing the series 1-1 in Sri Lanka while India lost two series (0-4 in England and 0-4 in Australia) to find themselves even behind Pakistan.
However, India’s Test stocks have dried up and the team needs some infusion of youth. The easiest thing to do is to slam India for not giving Test match cricket the importance it needs. That is not always fair because the players realise the importance of the longer form and only fools will devalue the importance of performing in a Test.
Good selection is where Indian cricket is lacking, be it with squads picked by the selectors or the team management when it comes to the playing XI.
Next up is New Zealand and the selectors will again be under pressure to infuse new faces in the Test fold. Rahul Dravid’s retirement will force them to pick a young gun, but what about VVS Laxman who had a torrid time in Australia? There is talk that the Hyderabadi will be allowed to play his last Test on his home ground against the Kiwis. If that happens, it will go down as a good gesture in BCCI’s book, but it will be the unkindest cut when it comes to India’s cricketing future.
India’s fifth place in the rankings should come as an eye opener for the selectors. Staying away from wielding the axe when it is in the best interests of your sport’s future is a sporting crime.