Stuart Binny (in pic) has a better bowling average of 5.66 compared to Ravindra Jadeja's 32.58 © Getty Images
Stuart Binny (in pic) has a better bowling average of 5.66 compared to Ravindra Jadeja’s 32.58 © Getty Images

With India’s first match against England washed out due to rain, the second one becomes that much more important. The team selection is therefore crucial. Shiamak Unwalla looks at whether the all-rounder’s role should be fulfilled by the medium-pacer Stuart Binny or the left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.

On the face of it, the selection dilemma that India faces for the all-rounder’s spot ought to be a no-contest. Ravindra Jadeja is a veteran of over 100 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), while Stuart Binny has featured just four times. Jadeja is a proven performer, while Binny is largely untested.
Clearly, Binny has not played nearly enough international cricket to justify the figures he has after just four ODIs. For instance, Jadeja’s batting average is over twice that of Binny’s, but the latter’s bowling average of 5.66 (bolstered by his 6/4 against Bangladesh recently) is phenomenal compared to Jadeja’s 32.58.

However, given the recent form of both players — as well as the Indian line-up and the pitch conditions — it seems likely that India might go in with the relatively unheralded Binny. The reasoning for this is simple: skipper MS Dhoni likes to use his part-timers, of which there are many in the side like Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma.

Besides this, while Dhoni did not use Binny a lot in the Test series, Binny is likely to be a useful third or fourth seamer in the limited overs games. That Binny recently bowled the best spell ever by an Indian in ODIs helps his cause. Binny showed his ability with the bat in the Test series as well, with a 78-run knock at Trent Bridge, and an unbeaten 25 — the highest of the Indian innings — in their pitiful display at The Oval.

On the other hand, Jadeja’s recent form has not been great. In the Test series, he was used largely as a defensive option, and was not particularly effective with the bat either. That being said, his ODI batting record has improved considerably with time, and it is wholly likely that that record will keep getting better.

For the moment, however, it seems the cards are stacked a little more in Binny’s favour. The fact that the ICC World Cup 2015 will be held in seam-friendly conditions in Australia and New Zealand further helps Binny’s chances, at least for the first couple of games. One thing is for certain though: the fact that India actually has some competition for an all-rounder’s spot is the best news they have had in quite a while.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)