Thursday, 24 January 2008

You bungled the job, Colonel!

I have to admit that I had more respect for Dilip Vengsarkar than anyone who laid his bum on the chief selector’s chair in recent past. But to be honest, the Colonel has looked little confused of late and bungled up a sensitive issue.

The decision to sack Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid has been mind-joggling. We indeed need to look beyond the stalwarts and keep the rookies ready to fill the void once they leave the scene. But there has been an unmistakably ugly effort to shove them out of the stage.

As it has been in the vogue of late to ape the Australians, Vengsarkar and his colleagues could have taken a look at the Aussie team, which has Andrew Symonds (33), Brett Lee (31), Stuart Clark (32), Mike Hussey (33), Ricky Ponting (33), Adam Gilchrist (36), Matthew Hayden (36), Brad Hogg (37) and Chris Rodgers (30) -- all in their 30s.

And thanks to their domestic structure, virtually a conveyor belt throwing up new talents every day, Australia apparently is not losing sleep fearing how to manage once the veterans hang up their boots.

While we need to look beyond the Gangulys and the Dravids, I’m not that optimistic about Suresh Rainas, Rohit Sharmas and Robin Uthappa. My cynicism stems from the fact that they have been hanging around for quite a while and behind the Twenty20 veneer, they still have not been able to cement their place in the side. But then, you have to invest in youth, whatever it may cost.

My sole point, however, is that the senior players – considering the service they rendered over the years – have a right to be treated with some sort of dignity, which has been denied in this case.

If the selectors really wanted to show the exit door to the seniors, there could have been dignified ways of doing it. It seems Vengsarkar and his colleagues in the selection committee felt the old horses had outlived their shelf life and hence lead them to the slaughter house to meet the obvious end.

Instead, Vengsarkar could have taken Ganguly and Dravid to a corner, laid his hands around their neck and told them “Guys, we are proud of you for whatever you have done. But time is changing and new guys are knocking on the door. Why don’t you call it quits and walk out head held high? We would host grand benefit matches for you?”

That would have been a befitting ODI send-off for two of India’s greatest servants.

And if the selectors allowed Dhoni and Yuvraj to call the shots, as reports claim, it was unfortunate and I would say Vengsarkar should now have allowed such interference in what is necessarily a selectorial job.


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