Urgent! Eleven men needed for India's tour of England

Players like Ravindra Jadeja perhaps have been called as replacements in the Indian team more on basis of urgency than meritocracy © Getty Images


By Madan Mohan


In 1998, Shekhar Kapur made a wonderful film on Queen Elizabeth I, titled Elizabeth. Early on in the movie, the young and inexperienced queen is led against her wishes into a disastrous war by her team of advisors. As England takes a pounding on the battlefield, the queen finds out to her dismay that, in dire need of reinforcements, the army had drafted hapless kids for war. That is unfortunately the situation the Indian team finds itself in now.


You play cricket, did you say? You might want to try your luck, because you never know, you might just get a look-in!


There was some optimism that India would fare better in the ODI series because overs-limit are England’s weak suit and India are of course the world champions. I shared this optimism too and it’s not entirely misplaced optimism because on the batting front, Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane have shone while Suresh Raina looks a different batsman. But I guess we do need eleven players who could make up a side, let alone the eleven best men for the tour! Who’d have thought that at some point, fielding a team of eleven would become a challenge for the selectors!


As the tour has unravelled and India has continued to lose, the only thing that has kept changing is the composition of the Indian squad. Replacements have been frantically rushed in. In some cases, like Ravindra Jadeja, only as far as the airport, thanks to delays in obtaining visas! And how exactly does injury to a specialist opener, namely Gautam Gambhir, prompt the selectors to replace him with an all rounder? Beats me! Like the kid from that Shekhar Kapur film, maybe Jadeja had the misfortune to fall within the line of sight of the selectors and was drafted in.


Barely had fans recovered from guffawing at this masterstroke did the news come in that Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar had been ruled out of the ODI series. No sweat, Subramaniam Badrinath and Manoj Tiwary were flown in. What next? Injuries to Pravin Kumar or Ravichandran Ashwin? You never know, there are still three matches to go and ample time for more injuries and more replacements.


Besides, by now, some unfortunates like Irfan Pathan or Ashish Nehra would be rueing the fact they could not get a berth on a paid holiday in United Kingdom when so they others have this summer? So why not redeem these inequities and pronounce somebody unfit before the fact since it’s a case of when rather than whether?


I am not being serious about this at all, of course, but like many other fans tracking the series, the state of the Indian team on this tour has gone from being a tragedy to a comedy for me. The pattern of getting injured and getting whacked out of the park has become so predictable that I don’t have any consternation left to spare. I can only sit back and enjoy a good laugh out of despair.


I hope the selectors would not join us in our laughter because it’s really not funny at all. As I said earlier in the tour, this series has badly exposed how the Indian team has been managed. The results have only been a nightmarish culmination of all the things that, it was feared, would hurt the team. Hopefully, a disaster of such proportions galvanises the establishment into action….other than fire fighting for replacements!


Anyway, what about the match? Yeah, a rain-restricted affair in which India were put in and, as expected, lost. I hate to say this, but I was so sure England would win that I placed a small bet, for the first time in my life, with a colleague on it. I hope to overrule any arguments and collect my reward today. And that’s about the only silver lining for me from this tour so far. Oh, that and a promising start to Rahane’s international career.


(Madan Mohan, a 25-year old CA from Mumbai, is passionate about writing, music and cricket. Writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake)