Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where does Harbhajan Singh go from here..?

Harbhajan Singh, the main spinner of the Indian team for a long while has not being selected for Australia's tour. The last couple of years, particularly in test cricket haven't gone as Harbhajan would have wanted. An average of close to 40 with a strike rate of more than 80 balls per wicket is really unlike India's lead spinner. The only series he actually looked good was when India toured South Africa last December where he picked up 15 scalps.

Hence, dropping him seemed a very apt decision. In fact, many have been demanding for this for a while now. In his absence, Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin have performed very well and given us enough reason to continue to trust them for the Australian tour. Together they picked up 42 wickets in the recently concluded 3-test match series against the WI. Ojha in my opinion, is the best spinner that India have and only needs more support from team management. In tests and limited over cricket alike, he should be given a long run for he has been successful consistently not only in the IPL, but more importantly in domestic cricket too.

Ashwin has performed exceptionally in debut series with more than 20 wickets and a maiden test century. This automatically made the situation for Harbhajan tighter. Add to this, the fact that the off-spinner from Punjab has managed to pick up just 2 wickets for 204 runs in 3 Ranji matches he has played this season. Invariably, not picking him for the upcoming tour was almost a given.

The bigger question is, should India think about Harbhajan anymore ?

There are two ways to go from here. Either back India's current pair for next couple of series and even if they don't perform, then look for other young talents on the domestic circuit. The other option of course, is bringing back Harbhajan in the squad after giving him some time off to regain his guile and rhythm. Most people who follow cricket keenly believe Harbhajan has lost his zeel and should not be brought back. Just for the sake of it, let us consider option two.

After being dropped, obviously his confidence will be on the lower side. For a man who won the world cup a few months ago, it must be quite a change to not tour with the team. So, if at all, the selectors decide to bring him back, they must time his re-selection to perfection. Harbhajan should be back in the team in the next 6 months(at max 8 months) after showing good form in domestic cricket. Else he should never get another look-in.

When a player is picked after a long time, often his whole aim of playing becomes securing his place in the squad. Though this might have worked in some cases, it usually doesn't help his own confidence or the team's cause. So, if picked, he must be picked soon. Bringing him back after 12-15 months, will only be bad for the team's interests. Rarely have cricketers come back from a long break and performed exceptional which makes it very important for players to be picked and dropped at the correct time.

Thus, supposing India keep going with this spin combination for about an year or so, then there should be no turning back. Even if a third spinner is needed, it must be a young talent. The likes of Iqbal Abdulla, KP Appanna and maybe even Piyush Chawla should be given a chance, instead of Harbhajan Singh.

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  1. Harbhajan needs to just look back at the careers of his contemporaries Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag, or even his senior Sourav Ganguly. All of them were once dropped, only to return stronger.

    With an honest self-assessment, and he will be half-way through to knowing whether he can or cannot make a comeback!

  2. that is a very good question my friend and I think that Harbhajan Signh has a lot of good options, he just needs to think carefully about his future


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