Why Ponting was dropped and Tendulkar wasn't
Sportsmen often do not know when to go, and the thought of leaving the sport they cherish is frightening for the most.
The month of February saw two greats being met with two different fates. Both Ponting and Tendulkar have not been pulling their weight in the ODIs recently but while one was dropped from the ODI team and his career in the format all but ended, the other got a life line to go to Bangladesh and participate in the Asia Cup.
Australia is a country where tough decisions are taken in a stride and selectors are ruthless and unforgiving. As Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor found out before Ponting, reputation counts for little when a team is being picked. If you don’t have the weight of runs behind you, you have to go. After registering five single digit scores in his last five ODIs, Ponting was sent packing by the selection committee; his form in the test matches where he scored two centuries recently including a double notwithstanding.
The selectors didn’t even try to cover up the dropping under the tag line of resting and let the world know how things stood. Even the captain, Micheal Clarke, who would form the spine of Australian batting lineup with Ponting in the coming test matches accepted his role in dropping the former captain.
In another part of the world, another selection committee decided to take a different step. When the Indian selection committee sat down to pick the squad for the Asia cup, there was an air of seriousness about it. The meeting had been termed ‘pivotal’ and some vital decisions were expected including the notion of India looking at the future beyond Tendulkar. However, that was not the case.
In the CB Series in Australia, Dhoni made his views clear saying that Sehwag, Gambhir and Tendulkar couldn’t be accommodated in the same playing XI as he needed younger legs on the field to save runs and that was the reason for employing the rotation policy to the openers. Selectors, though, thought otherwise. Rather than take the hard call, selectors decided to ‘rest’ Sehwag and Zaheer Khan and also decided to give the same bunch of players, who had underperformed in England and Australia, another go.
Tendulkar is a cricketing icon and probably the greatest player to have ever played the game. His achievements are too many to count and currently he stands at the pinnacle of a milestone that mere mortals can only dream of, the hundredth international hundred. However as India looks to the future and a life without Tendulkar, new players must be given their due chances at least in the shorter format so as to establish themselves before the 2015 World Cup is at their heels. The hundredth hundred can be achieved in a test innings.
Sportsmen often do not know when to go. The thought of leaving the sport they cherish is frightening for the most, but in team sports you need the best people on the field and it is the selectors’ job to see that happens. They are there to make sure the best playing XI is sent on tours and not the most popular one. If Tendulkar isn’t performing, he should be taken to a side and spoken to in no uncertain terms that his failures and his desire to still continue in this format is hurting India. A younger player would serve India much better especially with the long term plans in mind and this goes for all the senior players who are not pulling their weight.
It is not the selectors’ job to sugar coat their decisions and put dropping in the bracket of resting. If a player hasn’t performed, that should be made known to him and the public, because the hurt that follows a dropping usually inspires the dropped to regain their spot with gritty performances. So, by not dropping the underperformers (or telling them this to their face), Kris Srikkanth and company did a great disservice to Indian cricket. Now there will be no hurt to inspire Sehwag and Zaheer Khan and the fringe players will be de-motivated as well.
Following Ponting’s dropping, John Inverarity said that there was no place for sentiments in elite sports. The theme in the sub-continent could not have been more different.