CHENNAI: There are two ways of looking at the news of Hardik Pandya being rested after being named in the squad for the first two Tests against Sri Lanka. One, it took the selectors a long time to realise that he needs rest. Two, better late than never, it was felt that the all-rounder is one of the most overworked players, who needs care to be fresh for tests abroad.
Going by a BCCI statement, it appears to be more of the second, as it has been mentioned that Pandya will undergo “strength and conditioning” training at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. For one in demand in all three formats who has played almost non-stop since the Champions Trophy, this is well-deserved rest, even if a forced one.
Pandya’s is not an isolated case. The selection committee headed by MSK Prasad has been paying attention to the matter of resting players as well as asking those who need game time under their belt to play. Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma were rested from the ongoing round of Ranji Trophy games in order to keep them ready for the Test series. In contrast, Murali Vijay was asked to play because he had missed the previous Ranji match due to fitness-related reasons.
It suggests that some thought is being spared to keep players fresh and match-ready. Instead of following a blanket rule for all, under what circumstances India players can skip or take part in domestic games is being monitored. Not that this was not done in the past. But now with India’s calendar getting more congested, these decisions are being taken considering the specific need of the individuals.
“It’s good to see that things are being done systematically. There is nothing haphazard in what the selectors are doing. They are trying to assess who needs rest and taking decisions accordingly. I would say they are doing a good job and I’m sure they are doing it in consultation with the coach and the captain,” felt former India spinner Maninder Singh.
“For example, fast bowlers need more time to recover than others. So you see Ishant and Shami getting rest. While Vijay, who missed a game because of lack of fitness, is asked to play in the same round of domestic games. This shows that instead of laying down one rule for everyone, they are treating every case as a separate one,” added Maninder.
Rotating players had been an issue in the Indian set-up in the past, with several examples of fast bowlers breaking down due to lack of fitness and excessive workload. Previous selection committees did their bit. The difference between then and now is, more details are being taken into account and policies are framed accordingly.
With the cricket relentless and players performing their acts in different conditions, there will be occasions when players will have to be rested or asked to play. It will be important for the national selectors and the team management to continue to treat each case individually so that specific needs are taken care of.
Importance of Pandya
Hardik Pandya has become an important cog in India’s wheel. Struck a fifty on Test debut vs Sri Lanka. Followed it up with a century in the next game.
Since the Champions Trophy in England last year, Hardik has been involved in 30 of the 33 matches India played across all formats.
India have been using this policy of rotation to reduce the workload on certain players. R Ashwin and R Jadeja are examples.