Yuvraj Singh (left) and MS Dhoni (Image courtesy: AFP)
Yuvraj Singh (left) and MS Dhoni (Image courtesy: AFP)

MSK Prasad will soon be completing a year as chairman of national selectors for Indian cricket team. The tenure has been successful so far with India reaching the pinnacle in Test cricket, and we all also saw several cricketers such as Gautam Gambhir, Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik, Abhinav Mukund and Yuvraj Singh making comebacks. The selectors have a plan in place, and the priority at the moment is the 2019 World Cup as well. The million-dollar question however is: do Yuvraj and MS Dhoni fit the bill? READ MORE: MSK Prasad’s statement acts as a morale booster, says Wriddhiman Saha

In an interview with Wisden, Prasad was asked about Yuvraj and Dhoni’s future since they have stepped onto the other side of 35.

“We will see, we need to talk on that. We will have to take a decision, let’s see how it goes. We all know who can add value. Again, we will go slot by slot. We should know when to take a call. It’s not that suddenly you take a call and you are nowhere. You can’t be totally unprepared, so we need to be balanced on that aspect,” said Prasad, who implied on the fact that the side needed equally good if not better replacements.

With the World Cup less than 2 years away, Prasad believes the best thing was that the Champions Trophy 2017 took place in England and the selectors are already aware of the strengths and shortcomings. In the coming days, the panel will start providing the prospects their due chances.

Prasad stressed on the importance of being in synch with the junior committees in order to get more information for guys from future. His cordial relation with Under-19 and A team coach Rahul Dravid has been of great help. Prasad and Dravid have played during similar times and also were a part of the tough Australian tour in 1999-00.

“We meet on and off but frankly speaking, it is not the junior committee with which we interact more. It is with Rahul, with the (Under-19) team management. We take a lot of inputs from Rahul, I keep talking to Rahul. At the same time, we talk to the team management as well. We have a mix of people from whom we take inputs. I do interact with Venkatesh Prasad (the junior selection chairman) but more so with Rahul. The role of the selection committee ends with selecting the team. So now it is up to Rahul to take these boys to the next level. Rahul is the guy who can give us more information about the guys for the future. We keep talking to him,” Prasad added.

Importance of communication

Team India of recent times have seen the bench strength rise to the occasion and making opportunities count. The likes of Karun Nair and Parthiv Patel despite their heroics last season have failed to make the cut for the Sri Lanka tour. Prasad spoke on the importance of building strong communication with players who are dropped.

“Being a student of management — I have done my Masters in Management – and with my experience I had as a director (of cricket at the Andhra Cricket Association) also, the one thing I am very aware of is that it is very important to have extremely clear channels of communication. All the misunderstandings, everything that happens, happens just because of the lack of proper communication. And if you see the example, we couldn’t pick Karun Nair and Parthiv Patel for this series,” he said.

Diving more in-depth over the communication aspect, Prasad further explained, “I spoke to Karun and explained why he is not there in this series and what it is that we are expecting of him for him to make a comeback. And at the same time, it was very tough to leave Parthiv out. Whatever chances he got, he played exceptionally well and did everything that was asked of him. But we had to tell him that this being such a short series, we didn’t have the luxury of having an additional wicketkeeper. And Colombo is just an hour’s flight from India, so in case something happens, he can always fly in.

“Maybe if we hadn’t communicated those things in that way, he would have had a hundred-and-one thoughts in his mind. He could have felt left out, unwanted, thinking maybe X, Y or Z was not in favour of him. So it is always good to speak to the player and let him know where he stands. I had spoken to Yuvraj Singh last year during the Ranji Trophy season and told him how important his role would be as a mentor-cum-player in the Champions Trophy.”

Jasprit Bumrah for Tests?

Bumrah might have received the flak for his no-ball in the Champions Trophy final, but the Gujarat pacer has been one of the finest finds for India in the recent times. However, despite his good First-Class record, the bowler hasn’t been able to find a slot in the Test side. Prasad explained the dilemma and reasoned out Hardik Pandya’s rise as one of the reasons for the same. Both Bumrah and Pandya made their national debuts in the tour of Australia in 2015-16 season, but the latter’s ability with the bat gives him the edge.

“Bumrah is good but unfortunately, playing here is like playing in India, it is another Asian country. The question was whether you required that extra seamer or not. That’s the reason we picked Hardik Pandya ahead of Bumrah, because Hardik can add value to the team both with his batting and his fielding. So whether we really want a third seamer (in the playing XI) in Sri Lankan conditions is a point of debate, and if at all we want a third seamer, he should be an allrounder, that’s what we felt,” Prasad reasoned out.

However, with away series lined up, a call might be a short distance away from Bumrah, whom the selectors rate highly.

“Undoubtedly, Bumrah has done exceptionally well in the last year for sure. Last year in the Ranji Trophy, he did extremely well for Gujarat, won them the semifinal. Yes, Bumrah has the ability to play Test cricket. We will see what happens in future because we have enough away series coming up.” Prasad added.