About 50 years ago, another Indian off-spinner, Erapalli Prasanna, found out what it was like to be benched on a tour of England. As well as the Irani Trophy between Bombay and the rest of the world. A difficult task before the selection committee! Erapalli Prasanna is a disillusioned, frustrated man. If an immediate end is not put to the ungrateful manner in which his services to the country are being recognized,
There is every likelihood that a glorious cricket career will come to a premature and ignominious end. It is no secret that Prasanna has taken his non-inclusion in the Tests against England last summer to heart. He believes that in order to keep him off the list, interested individuals on the trip actively propagated derogatory—and completely unfounded—rumors about his “injured” shoulder.
FORGIVEN: He may be forgiven for being sore at the fact that no attempt was made to deny the rumors. Besides, he feels he has been made a scapegoat in the filthy politics that has once again raised its ugly head in Indian cricket, which unfortunately split the Indian camp in two on the last tour.
According to players from the South Zone, this was responsible for his being underplayed and under-bowled in England, thus preventing him from finding his touch, in turn leading to his omission from the Test on the grounds that he was “off-form,” “over the hill” and “unfit as a result of being overweight.”
The memory of our cricket pooh-bahs is indeed short! It is not long ago that Erapalli Prasanna was hailed as perhaps the greatest off-spinner that India has ever produced. Who can deny that Erapalli Prasanna’s superbly controlled spin was a major factor in India’s win over the West Indies earlier this year and that he, along with Bishan Singh Bedi, has been largely instrumental in attaining whatever glory we achieved until this year? To have taken 125 wickets in only 25 Tests is no mean achievement by any standard.
Reasons: Yet for reasons mown only to them, the newly-constituted selection committee decided, in its infinite wisdom, to leave out the Mysore spinner from the Zal Irani Trophy encounter against Bombay. And when Bedi cried off, it added salt to an already festering wound by summoning Erapalli Prasanna as a replacement for Bedi. The world-class off-spinner is a stand-by! It’s not surprising that Erapalli Prasanna said “no thank you” to the very kind offer. Which man would not have?
Many theories have been advanced for what are said to be efforts to say ‘finis’ to Prasanna’s career. One of these is his reported inability to get along with Venkat who, it is said, is being assiduously groomed for the plum position of captain in the very near future at the insistence of the South Zone where the balance of power in the present Board set-up currently resides. Whatever the merit of this allegation, cricket considerations could not possibly have been behind the dropping of Prasanna from the Irani Trophy match.
This writer for one, is not going to stand by and let a worthy cricketer be treated shabbily and unjustly. In a year bereft of a Test series the work of the selection committee will be un-glamorous in so far as their efforts will be relatively unpublicized and its efforts immeasurable in manifest relation to results. But before it lies the onerous task of consolidation, of the retention of our newly acquired prestige in international cricket, of planning and preparing for the future. The composition of the new committee raises hopes that it wg1 discharge its functions responsibly and pragmatically.
In selecting the side for the Irani Trophy, it has displayed a commendable keenness to give youth a chance in the tradition laid down by its former chairman. But the omission of Prasanna and Pataudi defies logical analysis and lends credence to the belief that perhaps extraneous non-cricket considerations have weighed with the selection committee in its deliberations. Is it too much to hope that the glaring omissions will be set right in the very near future?
One cannot help but commiserate with Govindraj. Unfortunately, this hard-working bowler had to surrender his berth in the side to promising Mohinder Amarnath whose claims could not be overlooked anymore. The fact that Mohinder Amarnath is a good all-rounder and must have titled the scales in his favor in the selectors’ desire to strengthen the “Rest” batting line-up, which as it looked none-too-impressive.
But it is hoped that the Hyderabad youngster will get the chances that he deserves, chances he should have gotten in England and the West Indies. All talk of producing fast bowlers is pointless if we do not know how to encourage them.