If one has to sum up Kris Srikkanth's tenure as the chairman of the national selection panel, after the former India skipper headed his last high-profile selection meeting, the apt description will be "inconsistent".
The fact was evident on Friday after the panel, of which all but one of the five members will be replaced by next month-end, selected the squads for the Tests and T20s against New Zealand at home and the World Twenty20 to be played in Sri Lanka.
The foremost example of the lack of consistency was the inclusion of Ishant Sharma and Yuvraj Singh in Test and Twenty20 squads respectively. There is no doubt both are proven match-winners but the fact that neither has played in a competitive game for more than six months for varied reasons has been overlooked.
Interestingly, it was the same set of selectors who, after Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag broke down in England last year, had decided they will not trust medical reports unless a player is tried out in a competitive match when returning from injury. Zaheer then played two Ranji games before being passed fit for the Australia tour.
While Yuvraj has just recovered from germ cell cancer, Ishant has completed his rehab after undergoing ankle surgery. In a case of double standards, the selectors are justifying their action by terming both these cases as "exceptions" to their policy. According to them, Ishant's return was certain once the medicos and trainers certified him fit, especially due to the "lack of quality first-class cricket" over the next month or so.
In Yuvraj's case, the selectors, despite being aware of the fact that "he may not be match-fit considering the wear and tear on his body" due to chemotherapy, are going to test the southpaw during the Buchi Babu tournament in Chennai later this month and the two T20s against New Zealand. In case he breaks down, it would be easier for them to field a replacement for the World T20.
Besides Yuvraj and Ishant, Suresh Raina and Piyush Chawla's return to the Test fold are as baffling as Harbhajan Singh's inclusion in the T20 squad. The selectors' explanation that Chawla has more variety than Rahul Sharma is unconvincing as Sharma had been persisted with as the reserved spinner and Chawla had a mediocre domestic season.
Another unconvincing act is the decision to persist with VVS Laxman. In a team crying for change, the ageing Hyderabadi star retains his place despite a poor four-Test series in Australia.
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