No call-up for Rayudu is baffling
The so-called logic of the selectors and team management to call for ODI inexperienced-Mayank Agarwal should've been made public
Vijay Shankar was chief selector MSK Prasad's three-dimensional player, but his World Cup experience before the toe injury put him out of the competition was neither brilliant nor disastrous.
With the No. 4 batting position gaining huge significance, it appeared that he was the most watched man in the Indian team apart from skipper Virat Kohli.
A lot was expected of Vijay and that wasn't fair since he is still a rookie in international cricket and hopefully, he will come back stronger.
If the pivotal role given to him on cricket's biggest stage was a surprise, the bigger surprise was the announcement of Mayank Agarwal replacing Vijay. Not only is Karnataka's Agarwal an opening batsman, he hasn't even figured in one-day international cricket.
Ambati Rayudu, who mocked chief selector Prasad's three-dimensional comment on Vijay through a tweet ("Just ordered a new set of 3d glasses to watch the world cup") was not called in as a replacement and the theory about him paying a price for his telling tweet has some merit.
With due respects to the team management's thinking and the selectors' flexible approach, decisions like these leave followers of the game baffled. "The All-India Senior Selection Committee has named Mr Mayank Agarwal as Vijay Shankar's replacement following a request from the Indian team management for a suitable top-order batsman," said the BCCI in a media release on Monday. Should one presume then that Agarwal may not have been the choice of the selectors but the team management? One could!
Ideally, the chairman of selectors should have provided a short explanation as to why Agarwal was chosen since this was a case (or rather, another case) of a replacement player not being of the same kind as the member of the Indian original squad.
Agarwal's selection also makes a mockery of the standbys system and Rayudu must be gutted to find himself out in the cold. It could have also led to his decision to quit international cricket yesterday.
This is not the first time that the replacement named turns out to be an unexpected one. In 1997, when fast bowler Javagal Srinath injured his shoulder and was ruled out of the Test series in the West Indies, Salil Ankola was the one expected to be sent. But, to everyone's surprise, the Ramakant Desai-led panel chose Noel David, a Hyderabad-based off-spinner who went on to play three one-day internationals on that tour. He claimed 3 for 21 on debut at Trinidad where India won by 10 wickets.
Interestingly, current chief selector Prasad caused a call-up case nearly 20 years ago. He was not 100 per cent fit on the 1999-2000 tour of Australia and Nayan Mongia, who, in the opinion of most pundits, should have been in the original squad, was sent as cover for the new
wicket-keeper. However, Mongia had to return home from Australia without actually replacing Prasad. It was a messy affair with no explanations provided and I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1999, waiting along with other reporters for Mongia to arrive at the Orchid Hotel in Mumbai. A teary-eyed, lips-sealed Mongia was all we got to see.
Sunil Gavaskar had some comforting words for Mongia in his February 6, 2000 syndicated column. "It was a sad sight to see someone who had played with distinction for the country, alone and seemingly friendless (on the tour). Mongia, without a doubt, was the best wicketkeeper in the world when he was dropped," wrote Gavaskar.
In Gavaskar's playing days – on the 1986 tour of England – fast bowler Chetan Sharma, who had claimed a fifer in the first Test at Lord's, broke down with a back injury and couldn't be part of the next game at Leeds. S Madan Lal was summoned from the Central Lancashire League to be part of Kapil Dev's team. This, despite Manoj Prabhakar being in the reserves.
Rajasthan pacer Pradeep Sunderam, who was a standby, was in England playing club cricket too. He had claimed 10 wickets in an innings in the Ranji Trophy the previous season and got to hear that they couldn't find him in England, leaving him utterly dejected. So was all-rounder Yajurvindra Singh, when Anshuman Gaekwad was called in as replacement for the injured Surinder Amarnath on the 1977-78 tour of Australia. Yajurvindra told me the other day that he was the first standby for the tour and Amarnath, a middle order batsman, was replaced by Gaekwad, who could also open the batting.
Gaekwad batted in the middle order during the only Test he played at Adelaide.
Then, there is this fascinating story about ML Jaisimha arriving a day before the commencement of the Brisbane Test on the 1967-68 Australia tour and scoring 74 and 101 at the Gabba. This was an interesting selection too, since a batsman (Jaisimha) had replaced spinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, who injured his ankle in the previous Test at Melbourne.
Of course, Vijay would not be concerned over who has replaced him in England, but if things don't go according to plan here on, Agarwal's selection will probably be more ridiculed than Prasad calling Vijay a 3D player.
mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper
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