By Sidhanta Patnaik
Right now Yuvraj Singh’s thoughts must be scattered all over the place and it is understandable. His Test career spanning over eight years and 37 matches does not quite reflect his talent. Every opportunity he has got to redeem his reputation has either been interrupted by an injury or a better performance by a fellow player. There has to be something fundamentally wrong in the way he has been handled as a resource in Test cricket.
The dilemma took its seed right from the time he was ripe for Test cricket. The selection committee’s lack of vision in the early 2000s forced him on the bench instead of being tried out in place of Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid or Sachin Tendulkar on a rotation basis. Though the ‘Fabulous Four’ kept him out for quite a long, his entry into the team was considered to be a mere formality and a matter of time. But unfortunately the on- field performance has not yet matched and now with Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Cheteswar Pujara and Rohit Sharma vying for the same spot the competition has only got tougher.
Why was Virat Kohli not included in the XI for the first two Test matches against West Indies at home? Was it Yuvraj Singh’s last chance to have a go for a position that was once his by default?
It is the quandary that the present national selectors have been caught up in. It is an open secret that if the right combination is not formulated before Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar exit then a middle-order collapse looks imminent. While it’s important to groom youngsters for filling up empty slots in the middle-order, it’s equally important to have a relatively experienced batsman who can build and hold an innings together. When Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman made their debuts, Mohammed Azharuddin and Tendulkar were instrumental in playing that role. In the current set-up, no one beyond Yuvraj Singh can fit the bill.
Yuvraj has not done anything noticeable to be included for the Australian tour which effectively means that whoever plays at No 6 for India Down Under will be in for the long run. This player will come out stronger from the experience of facing an Aussie attack in their backyard. Such a probability further complicates Yuvraj’s Test career graph from here on.
The myopic planning of the past has brought about the present predicament. Yuvraj is not getting any younger. The futuristic map should have youngsters as the central theme. The selectors should bring about an amicable close to Yuvraj’s traumatic journey in Tests. It will at least free up his mind and allow him to focus on his strengths or else he might end up not making the 2015 World Cup in the battle to get into the Test squad.
(Sidhanta Patnaik is a sports marketing professional, public speaker and a part time writer. His twitter id is @sidhpat)