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Indian selectors should consider a team of Test specialists: Stephen Fleming

To avoid further humiliation, prepare a team of Test specialists, but compensate them for missing out on the riches of IPL, says former New Zealand skipper

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may want to pay heed to Stephen Fleming's opinion if they want to save India from another England-like humiliation (they lost 1-3) in overseas Tests in the future.

Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming during a promotional event at a city hotel yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming during a promotional event at a city hotel yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK 

With the calendar getting busier for Indian cricketers every year, Fleming, who led New Zealand for 12 years, feels it is time for Indian selectors to consider a team of Test specialists.

"The thought about creating specialist Test players is an excellent one. A lot of countries are doing it, earmarking some players for one form and that is something India might need to consider," Fleming said on the sidelines of a promotional event for Education New Zealand yesterday.

However, creating Test specialists is not the only solution. Fleming said the BCCI should devise ways to compensate these Test specialists who would miss out on the riches of the IPL.

Lack of Test matches
India have gradually reduced the number of Tests they play over the last five years. In 2010-11 they played 14 Tests. The number dropped by half in the 2011-12 season. They then played 10 and six Tests in 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons respectively. In the 2014 season, Dhoni's men have played five Tests (against England) so far.

India's Cheteshwar Pujara is dismissed by England's Ben Stokes during the second Test at Lord's in London last month. Pic/Getty Images
India's Cheteshwar Pujara is dismissed by England's Ben Stokes during the second Test at Lord's in London last month. Pic/Getty Images 

"The IPL is such a good competition to play and to keep a player out of it, they (players) might have to be given equal remuneration because all players want to gravitate towards it (IPL). So, there will have to be a pretty strong incentive to keep them interested in Tests.

"But again, it is something they (players) need to consider. For example, (Cheteshwar) Pujara is that type of player, even (Murali) Vijay. They are very talented in the shorter form (of the game), but keeping them out of it would enhance their Test game probably," said Fleming.

Fleming, who shares the dubious record of losing 16 away Tests as captain with Brian Lara, said it is not the time to get emotional about the humiliation in England and call for the sacking of skipper Dhoni (14 overseas Test defeats) and coach Duncan Fletcher.

In MSD's defence
"It is easy to speculate after poor performances. If you look at (Alastair) Cook at the start of the series, you could say he was exactly under the same kind of pressure which Dhoni is now.

It is fine just to say that the captain has to go, but, if you are giving the problem to someone else without a strong solution then you are just papering over the problem. "He may still be the man for the job, but there might be a need to make some changes within."

Speaking from his own experience of coaching Chennai Super Kings, Fleming said: "There is only so much you can do as a coach to warm these guys on the field. Sometimes deflecting that responsibility onto the coaches and boards shifts focus from the real issue.

"If there are deeper issues then it is up to the coach, the captain and the team management to get to the bottom of it. Often communication is a problem and that should be improved."

22.20
Cheteshwar Pujara's average in the recently concluded Test series against England. He scored 222 in 10 innings 

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