When BCCI President Sourav Ganguly took over as the 39th chief of the Board of Cricket Control in India, here’s what he had said: “Performance is the most important thing and will decide the future of Indian cricket.” The message which Ganguly sent out in 2019 itself was clear – a player’s performance at the domestic and international level will form the basis of their selection.
Three years later, Virat Kohli has been axed as the captain from all formats, and Rohit Sharma has replaced him. Kohli’s unmotivating performance played a big role in him being replaced by Rohit Sharma much earlier than anticipated.
Now, the BCCI has cracked the whip on non-performing players again. Ahead of the two-match test series with Sri Lanka, the cricket board has booted out senior players Ajinkya Rahane and Chateshwar Pujara from the squad. Calls for dropping Pujara and Rahane from the Test squads only grew louder throughout 2021, due to their continuous poor performance with the bat. While Pujara scored 702 runs in 14 Tests; at an average of 28.08, Rahane could only accumulate 479 runs in 13 games.
Having such continuous unmotivating performances from some players can annoy anybody. Cricket enthusiasts have been annoyed for quite a long time now, even though the BCCI gave ample opportunities to all non-performers to get their acts straight. The move comes after Rohit Sharma takes control of the Indian cricket team in all formats, and therefore, a strategy on the new skipper’s part also needs to be taken into account.
Apart from Pujara and Rahane, wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha and fast bowler Ishant Sharma were also dropped from the squad of the upcoming Test series.
Chief Selector Chetan Sharma, speaking on the reformed squad said, “The selection committee put a lot of thought into it and came to the decision. We have spoken to them earlier and we have told them that we will not consider them for the two Test matches against Sri Lanka. The doors are absolutely open for them. We told them to go and play Ranji Trophy. That is the best part for both of us, such senior cricketers are going and playing Ranji Trophy…Just for two Test matches, the selectors decided to give a chance to other cricketer.”
Interestingly, Chetan Sharma made a remark which proves that the BCCI has given up on the thought of Kohli being the team’s best member. He said, “Rohit Sharma is the No. 1 cricketer of our country and the most important thing is that he is playing all three formats. The important thing is how we manage Rohit and all the current cricketers are very professional, they know their body, they manage their body. With Rohit, there’s absolutely no problem at all…For us, the longer Rohit captains we will be that much happy.”
Those dropped from the upcoming test series have been given a straightforward message by the BCCI – improve your performance soon, or your entry back into the team will become an impossibility. Already, cricket enthusiasts on social media are enthralled by the announcement of non-performers like Pujara and Rahane being dropped. The BCCI does not have much reason to reinstate them back for future tournaments and series unless, of course, they turn their performances around.
Meanwhile, those who have been kept in the squad must realise that they have been given a very short rope. If their performance sinks, and if they are unable to contribute to the team’s success – they will be axed. The time for playing around is now over.