It was August 2008, a frustrated Badrinath lashed out in the media that despite scoring heavily during the India-A tours to Australia and South Africa and being the second top scorer in domestic cricket, behind Gautam Gambhir last season, he didn't get a chance to represent his country.
"Forget about the performance during the Emerging Players Tournament. Even before that I scored heavily during India-A series against Australia and South Africa and the only player to have done better than me in domestic competition was Gautam Gambhir," Badrinath said.
"It baffled me when Manoj Tiwary went to Australia. But still I kept my cool. Now it is Virat Kohli. This is really going nowhere. None of the selectors have told me where I stand. They should allow me to fail by picking me in the side. If I am unable to prove my worth, I will be a fringe player all my life," he had added.
Indeed, starting around 2005-06, Badrinath was one of India’s most consistent batsmen at the first-class level. Year after year, he was putting on the big runs and year after year, the selectors continued to ignore him. His frustration was justified and his anger was genuine.
So perhaps it’s ironical to see him being picked into Indian team on the back of one of his worst Ranji seasons. In six matches last season, Badrinath – who was coming back from a shoulder injury – scored 292 runs at an average of 35.39.
The 2010-11 season, in comparison, had seen him score big runs to the tune of 933 runs at 131.71. But he was ignored then and he has been picked now. Strange are the ways of the selectors. At 32, Badrinath isn’t the youngest player around either.
And in picking Badrinath, the selectors have chosen to ignore the big run-scorers of last season’s Ranji trophy competition. It’s the same story all over again – just this time the man with the main role isn’t Badrinath.
The 24-year-old Robin Bist scored 1034 runs at 86.16 and was the batting mainstay of the champions Rajasthan. He has a steady presence at the wicket too – in much the same manner as say a Badrinath.
Mumbai’s Suryakumar Yadav is just 21 and loves playing his shots which can sometimes lead to his downfall but he has all the shots in the book and can change the flow of the match. Last season, he made 754 runs at 68.54.
Manoj Tiwary has been in pretty good form as well. He has been in and out of the side and has already experienced the ups and downs of international cricket. But at 26, he seems ready to make his mark. Last season, he scored 595 runs at an average of 148.75.
Even a batsman like Ambati Rayudu, who has impressed since his comeback into the BCCI fold, made 390 runs at 48.75 last season.
Is it time for all these players to come out and speak out against the selectors, who seem to be far from professional about their jobs? It would nice if the five wise men could every once in a while display their wisdom.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly felt that the selectors didn’t handle Laxman’s retirement well. A very valid argument but they haven’t gone about choosing his replacement in the Indian team very well either. A look at the Indian team for the New Zealand Test series shows that they already have plenty of middle-order batsmen – Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina and Ajinkya Rahana. All younger than Badrinath, all in line for a place in the playing XI before him so what purpose have the selectors met by picking him?
Picking a younger player would have at least helped the Indian team have a few more options. As we know, there is probably one more big retirement that we are likely to see in the next year or so – though we don’t expect it to happen in as understated a manner as Laxman’s.