The Indian cricket team selectors seem like mere pawns in the hands of their cricket superstars. Although they present themselves as impartial, the fact remains that they do not have the nerve to pick a team with an eye for the future.
These selectors are weak because they rarely have the guts to take steps that could affect the popularity of the superstars. The whole Mahendra Singh Dhoni retirement issue is clearly the inability of the selectors to take a strong decision. In fact, it is their helplessness to come to a conclusion on the long term plans for the Indian team’s wicketkeeper’s slot that has resulted in Dhoni’s retirement being the most talked about topic today. Had the selectors discussed with Dhoni and even informed him that they see him as India’s wicketkeeper only till the World Cup, they need not have waited for his availability to finalise the team for the West Indies tour.
It’s a shame that the Indian selectors were kept waiting only to be informed by Dhoni that he would be taking a two-month sabbatical to join the army regiment and do parachute training instead of playing cricket. As a result, whoever steps into Dhoni’s shoes, like Rishabh Pant, who is luckily in the Indian team as a batsman, or Sanju Samson, who hasn’t been getting any exposure, is not sure of his future.
The Indian selectors fear a public backlash if they take a strong decision on one of their heroes. It is evident that even though they had plans to try out Rohit Sharma as captain for the limited-overs team despite Virat Kohli repeatedly failing to win ICC tournaments, they did not have the guts to take a bold decision against Kohli.
Australia, England and New Zealand selectors have never hesitated to ask their cricketers to retire once they feel the need to groom another youngster, or even introduce a different captain for one of the formats. One of the reasons that Indian selectors hesitate to take strong decisions on a star player is because most Indian stars have a million followers and are seen as legends. It is here that the selectors must step in and demonstrate professionalism to pick the right team as well as the right captain for the different formats.
India lost the World Cup purely because of the selector’s inability to look beyond the superstars and have a strong middle-order.
The present state of the Indian selectors is such that after the West Indies tour, for the oncoming South African series in India, they will once again wait to know who is resting to name the wicketkeeper or even the captain! Going by the trend it is unlikely they will take any strong decision that will be strategic for the team’s future.