Rohit Sharma has made just one score in double figures over his last 10 games. His last five innings read 0, 0, 4, 4 and 4. Yet Rohit finds a place in the one-day squad for the three games against England. According to ESPNcricinfo, Rohit was retained because of a “lack of alternatives” (had Manoj Tiwary been fit, he would likely have replaced Rohit).
If what the BCCI source told ESPNcricinfo is true, then it means the selectors think India’s batting cupboard is so bare that no one else in domestic cricket is capable of making even double figure scores in international cricket. At a time when Indian cricket is going through a transitional phase, it is precisely the wrong sort of message to send to players in domestic cricket who have India aspirations. The idea should be to build up the confidence of those coming through the system, not tear it down.
Besides, there are a handful of players who should have been considered in place of Rohit Mandeep Singh, Suryakumar Yadav and Ambati Rayudu, to name just three, are all worthy of consideration. The 21-year-old Mandeep, who opens for Punjab, had a breakout 2012 IPL for Kings XI Punjab, and has been prolific in domestic cricket, having made 1,789 runs at an average of 52.61.
Yadav loves to play the big shots and has a first-class strike-rate of 85.86. A year older than Mandeep, though less experienced than the Punjab batsman, this series would have been a good opportunity for him to be part of the India set-up and get a taste of the demands of international cricket.
Perhaps the most deserving of the lot is Ambati Rayudu, who can also double-up as a back-up keeper for Dhoni. Rayudu has had a checkered career, having been part of the now defunct Indian Cricket League, but he was highly touted as a youngster and has been a consistent performer in domestic cricket. Dubbed a special talent by his Mumbai Indians teammate Harbhajan Singh, Rayudu is now 27 and it would have been the perfect time to test his international credentials.
Picking Rohit tells these other players that they are not good enough, despite Rohit’s continued failures. As for Rohit, by this stage his pride should be hurting him more than anything else. An average of 30 over 86 matches with just two hundreds is not a high enough return for the investment the BCCI has made in him. There is no doubting his talent, but if he doesn’t produce in this series, it will be time to send him back to first-class cricket and ask him to prove himself all over again.