Vengsarkar laments very sorry state of affairs

Amidst the gloom of India’s crushing defeat at the hands of Alastair Cook & Co in the second Test at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, former captain and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar stepped out of his crease to slam cricket administrators and selectors.

Keeping faith in under-performing stars, Sandeep Patil & Co made only one change to the squad for the third Test at Eden Gardens from December 5: Ashok Dinda for injured pacer Umesh Yadav.

Team India coach Duncan Fletcher and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni arrive for the selection committee meeting at the Cricket Centre yesterday

The selection panel was to pick the squad for the third and fourth Test (Nagpur) and the two T20 Internationals against England, but named the squad only for the Kolkata Test in Mumbai yesterday.

Vengsarkar, who was chairman of selectors from October 2006 to September 2008, said Indian cricket is in a ‘very sorry state.’ “Of course, there should have been some changes for the third Test, but where are the options,” he asked.

“Our cricket is in a very sorry state. The cupboard looks empty. There are no ideal replacements for those who are not performing well. So, unfortunately the selectors have to continue with the non-performing players in the team. It’s a grave issue,” Vengsarkar said.

Selection committee chairman Sandeep Patil. Pics/Atul Kamble

The Indian spin trio of Pragyan Ojha, R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh looked out of sorts as compared to their England counterparts Monty Panesar (11 wickets) and Graeme Swann (eight wickets) during the Wankhede Test. Harbhajan, who made a comeback to the Indian Test team after last year’s England tour, was completely off-colour, claiming two lower order batsmen wickets — Stuart Broad and James Anderson.

Where was Fletcher?
The former India skipper took on the cricket administrators: “There is no grooming process in place for the fringe players. It is baffling to see such lackadaisical approach from the administrators. The team’s preparation for such an important series was very poor,” said Vengsarkar, who has a significant presence in the history of India vs England cricket with three consecutive centuries (1979, 1982, 1986) at Lord’s.

Dilip Vengsarkar

Coach Duncan Fletcher was also not sparred by Vengsarkar. The Zimbabwean’s 19-month stint with the Indian team since taking over from 2011 World Cup-winning coach Gary Kirsten has been far from being impressive. “Where was he?” fumed Vengsarkar. “Why wasn’t he there during the Ranji Trophy matches and warm-up games? He should have been watching the fringe players’ performance.”

The Mumbai and India stalwart backed Ajinkya Rahane to get a spot in the playing XI during the ongoing Test series. “If someone fails to perform even in the third Test, then Rahane should definitely get a look in. He is ready for Test cricket,” signed off Vengsarkar.  

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