Where's the retirement party for 4 seniors?

Last Updated: Sat, Nov 09, 2013 05:15 hrs

Sachin Tendulkar’s ODI retirement was announced exactly at the same time as the squad for the Indo-Pakistan ODI series was announced. That led to speculation that he was actually dropped and informed in time to announce that he was quitting.

There was no retirement party for him in ODIs.

There was all indication that Sachin wanted to play in the South African tour at the end of the year. Out of the blue it was announced that there would be a West Indies Test series and it would be Sachin’s last.

In all probability the selection committee did not want Sachin to go to South Africa and this was an honourable compromise where Sachin would get a chance to play his 200th Test and bow out with grace. This way everyone is happy. Plus Sachin is the most popular player India has ever had and you can’t anger his fans. In fact his 199th Test at Kolkata has been celebrated a bit tad too much too.

But what about other mere mortals? Four senior players have not been selected for the West Indies tour. Have they been retired? Will they be given retirement parties too at some stage?

Virender Sehwag (35).

Last international match: Hyderabad Test versus Australia, March 2-5, 2013.

Runs scored: 6.

This year Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have cemented their places as openers in the ODI team. Dhawan and Murli Vijay did great in the 4-0 Test whitewash.

Sehwag’s reflexes have really slowed down and he’s suspect on foreign soil, so he looks quite doubtful for the South Africa tour at the end of the year. His luck continued to be bad when the North Zone versus South Zone match from October 17-21 was washed out.

That was the last match for him before the team was picked for the West Indies series.

Gautam Gambhir (32).

Last international match: Dharamsala ODI versus England, January 27, 2013.

Runs scored: 24.

Gambhir finds himself in exactly the same boat as Sehwag. The problem is that in the very last Test series that he played, he scored 251 runs at an average of 42, which one would think is not enough to be retired. 

Gambhir scored a century against West Indies A in a four-day match last month, but that didn’t seem to be enough to get him back into the squad.

Harbhajan Singh (33).

Last international match: Hyderabad Test versus Australia, March 2-5, 2013.

Performance: 2-52 & 0-10 along with a batting duck.

Bhajji has been in and out of the team for quite some time now, but now it appears that he is permanently out. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have emerged as the go to Test spinner all-rounders for the team and the latter also became the first ICC No. 1 ODI bowler after Anil Kumble.

To make matters more complicated, Amit Mishra picked up a whopping 18 wickets in the Zimbabwe ODI series. That’s why the injured Jadeja’s replacement turned out to be Mishra. Pragyan Ojha was taken ahead of Bhajji as probably they didn’t want the latter to be the 12th man.

It’s funny that Bhajji should have found himself redundant the moment he went past the landmark of 400 Test wickets.

Zaheer Khan (35).

Last international match: Kolkata Test versus England, December 5-9, 2012.

Performance: 1-94 and a total of 6 runs in two innings.

Zaks is the only player of the four who didn’t get a single game in 2012, forget 2013. Not a very happy prospect for the leading bowler of the 2011 World Cup.

When a lacklustre Ishant Sharma, who has been performing erratically for many years now, got hit for 30 runs in one over in something that cost India the Mohali ODI, many people thought that Zaks might finally get a look-in over Ishant.

But nothing of the sort happened and Ishant finds himself retained for the West Indies tour.

While the selection committee have every right to drop who they want and retire who they want at least things should be done more gracefully and every player who has had such a long service should at least get one farewell match.

While Rahul Dravid announced his retirement after the Australia Test series in 2012, VVS Laxman did so before the New Zealand tour.

Ironically the very next match that he was to play was his home ground in Hyderabad and the BCCI could well have converted that into his farewell match.

It’s pretty sad to see so many great Indian players coming to such a shabby end.

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/

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