In the Irani Trophy in 1978, Dilip Vengsarkar smashed 151 against a bowling line-up that included EAS Prasanna and Bhagwat Chandrashekar. Yet the selectors persisted in ignoring the obvious and named the spin quartet to tour Pakistan. Zaheer Abbas and Javed Miandad confirmed what Vengsarkar had already shown. The Indian spinners were plundered in the Test series. The Indian selectors missed a trick then and as a result three of the quartet had to retire under a cloud.
Big names in Indian cricket have a history of overstaying and Indian players Kapil Dev are some more examples.
India faces a similar challenge today. The batting stalwarts in the team deserve their place. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman routinely put in solid performances and make India a great Test side. The clinical second innings batting performance against the West Indies at Kotla showed what experience and skill is all about.
Yet, something doesn't seem quite right with the Indian Test team. It lacks a buzz, freshness and excitement which are the hallmarks of good sides. Battle hardened as India's batsman are, England still steamrolled them.
India's benches don't yet have the riches to replace these three greats. Heck, they haven't found anyone decent enough to replace Sourav Ganguly who retired three years ago. Yet, it feels like it's time to give it a go.
Rohit Sharma reintroduced himself with two back-to-back centuries in the ongoing Ranji Trophy. He has corrected his temperament to back up his talent with hunger. It's time to blood him.
Virat Kohli's defining innings must be the one day century he cracked against England in Cardiff. After a woeful Test and one-day series, he dug deep and connected. He has an Australian quality of doggedness and resilience that Indian batsmen (with due respect to Laxman) have not had. If not for his unfortunate injury, Cheteshwar Pujara might have been a regular in the Test side and the experiments with SureshRaina/Yuvraj Singh would have ceased.
This is not a piece that is against Tendulkar, Dravid or Laxman. Much like many people are now less interested in listening to Lata Mangeshkar and want more of the newer singers, the spectators are perhaps clamoring for something different. But a time comes when the old must give way to the new. A good solid, batting performance may get us the draw and an odd win, but it feels like men playing against boys.
India may not win immediately with these new players. These players may not even be the answer, much like Pravin Amre and Vinod Kambli faded. But it feels like it's time to ring in the new. Australia's team is new. Sending a team of old stalwarts with a view to crush a team that is rebuilding may seem like a great idea, but it could fail and we might see a repeat of 1978-79.
P.S. Irfan Pathan picked up eight wickets including a five-for in the match against MP. Looks like he is back!
(Vidooshak is a blogger @Opinions on Cricket. He was drawn into cricket by Golandaaz as a schoolboy. His bluster overshadows his cricketing ability. He played as a wicket-keeper in a college team but was promptly dropped. The college selection committee had slightly higher standards than Pakistani selectors. He did reasonably well in tennis ball cricket until he was benched for a final game by the team that he captained. To say some of it was due to his opinions would be an understatement of sorts. Regardless, Vidooshak finds time to opinionate relentlessly and lives a vicarious life by watching cricket teams make obvious mistakes. Good news for Vidooshak is that someone always loses a cricket game, someone always gets belted and someone always flops. Vidooshak always looks for an alternative explanation and rarely agrees with mainstream consensus. Needless to say he has no friends, only ‘tolerators’! While not throwing his weight around, Vidooshak does not run marathons or draw pictures, but reads voraciously on all topics, volunteers at local failing schools, is an avid but average golfer and runs an Indian association in mid-west America)