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There are some facts that people have always believed but dreaded to write or speak in public. One was the choker tag associated with South Africa. You can avoid the ‘C’ word, but it finds the news every time an ICC tournament knockout concludes! A similar sense prevails for India. It would be not irrational to say that Indian cricketers have always been bad at multitasking. For quite a while, Indian domestic system has produced only specialist cricketers-who can bat very well and turn an arm almost, or who can bowl tremendously and hang for a while with the bat if the situations demand. The lack of quality all-rounders has restricted choices for Indian captains in team selections for decades now. There have always been matches where the lack of fifth bowler has proved expensive. The part-timers even have bowled full quotas in case of instant injuries of premier bowler. It is a limitation of the Indian cricketing system, a large pool of cricketers and coaches, to not have generated even one such international level all-rounder of the likes of Kallis, Flintoff and Watson. What surprisingly ails the Indian setup?
The Structure: The Indian domestic cricket structure and schedule is so grinding for a cricketer. Precisely, for an all-rounder -It takes a lot to be there in the field batting sessions and then bowling long spells. It further worsens for an Indian all-rounder as he is supposed to playing all round the clock expected to excel in both the departments. The fitness and stamina takes a toll for those who don’t hit the gyms often. Consequently, some players drop a department to focus on other as a part of long-term career planning. The coaches too have a say in this.
The travelled path: As a youngster, one has no Indian all-rounder whom he can look upon. Most of the budding cricketers aspire to walk on the same success path as all the Indian crickets have-the path more travelled of being a specialist cricketer!
No encouragement: The national selection panel has never been fair to bowling all-rounders. With a vision to give them a long run, results might come. Shane Watson took years to prove his true worth. In his initial years, he was an easy picking for batters. Today, he is easily the best ODI all-rounder just because his potential was trusted. On the contrary, Irfan Pathan has been picked up irregularly in past two years-irrespective of the form.
Pitches: The Indian pitches are batsman and spinner’s paradise. And considering ‘The survival of the fittest theory’, the Indian all-rounder is on the verge of extinction.
It is time the wealthiest cricket board of world pulls its sleeves to prevent this downslide. It is an irony that such a big cricketing nation fails to make use of its resources. Long-term vision has always eluded the Indian selection panel. The end result? Lack of genuine all-rounders. What is your young kid’s idol by the way? I bet not Kapil Dev!