Ajinkya Rahane (left), Virat Kohli (centre) and Varun Aaron © AFP
Ajinkya Rahane (left), Virat Kohli (centre) and Varun Aaron © AFP


By Sidhanta Patnaik


India’s playing XI for the first Test against he West Indies was pretty much on the expected lines. Except for that tussle between Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli, names for the rest of the places were a mere formality. So the players to miss out were Varun Aaron, Rahul Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane.


This brings us to the classic question of whether they would have been better off representing their state teams in the ongoing Ranji Trophy instead of warming the benches in the national squad. If they are to be asked this question they will happily accept their current position considering that they are breathing the same air as some of the game’s stalwarts and picking up the nitty-gritty of big time cricket. Rahul Dravid advised a youngster once, that it is better to be grinding it in the domestic circuit than to be carrying water bottles in an international match.


At the tender age of 17 when Parthiv Patel made his international debut he looked below par. His mental make-up was questioned and soon it affected his performance behind the stumps. A decade has passed by since then and carrying the responsibilities of Gujarat, a lesser-known side in the domestic circuit has taught him important lessons that will always be at his rescue in the toughest of conditions, case in point being his gritty innings of 95 against England in the seaming conditions of Chester-le-Street in September this year.


Ravindra Jadeja is another such classic example whose reformation throughout the England one-day series does not come as a surprise. The current domestic season gives him a chance to throw up his hand for a Test spot in the Indian team.


Rahane and Kohli have done their bit for Mumbai and Delhi respectively, but Aaron and Rahul Sharma are yet to prove their credentials on the cricket field. Had Aaron turned up for Jharkhand in the first Ranji match and taken up the bowling responsibility then it would have allowed him to understand himself better after having made a comparatively successful debut against England in the ODIs. And who knows, Hyderabad could have been restricted well below 416!


Similarly had Rahul Sharma turned up for Punjab and bowled in tandem with Harbhajan Singh against Suresh Raina then it would have presented a mouth watering-contest against a background set up for a national call up.


India is not known to be announcing the final eleven prior to the morning of a home Test match but it is a culture that needs to be looked at. The state teams would be the biggest beneficiaries of this change and in the process it would enhance the competitive levels of Ranji Trophy. It is a practiced phenomenon in England cricket team to release their reserves for county duties during the home season. India can do well to emulate the model or else the fear of short-of-match practice young players being found out in unfamiliar conditions won’t be far from our mind for long.


(Sidhanta Patnaik is a sports marketing professional, a public speaker and a part time writer. His twitter id is@sidhpat)