The domestic cricket season is not even a month old and the Ranji games are yet to start,but two openers – Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay have already scored 500 plus runs. One Irani Cup five-dayer,a ‘Saturday to Tuesday’ Challenger Trophy 50 overs tournament and a half-finished Duleep Trophy have seen the two hit the ground sprinting. As on Day 26 of the 2012-13 season,Dhawan has three 100s and a 99. Vijay trails him closely with innings of 266,155 and 93.
These are numbers that can wipe out old impressions from stubborn minds and open rusty locks. In the background of a crisis at the top of the order in the national team,this seems like the start of a feel good story about a couple of never-say-die comeback men. But it actually provides a tragic insight into the game at the grass roots.
For approximately two years,India hasn’t had a three-digit opening stand. Gautam Gambhir’s last Test 100 was in January 2010,while Virender Sehwag’s was in November of the same year. So should the selectors pick the in-form left-right combination of Dhawan and Vijay and discard the old pair for the England Test series that starts next month? No,please. Especially when the players haven’t really been tested.
With India A’s tour to New Zealand,World T20 and Champions League clashing with Irani,Challenger and Duleep matches,the knocks have come against depleted sides on dead tracks. Vijay scored 266 against a mediocre Rajasthan attack minus Pankaj Singh. Dhawan’s 152,his highest this season,came in a List A game that saw 666 runs scored in 100 overs.
The fault,however,is not the players. He can only play an opponent that is put in front of him on a track that he is provided with. Unless the BCCI comes up with imaginative scheduling and sporting tracks,the form that these batsmen show will run the risk of coming across as the lashings of flat track bullies
Sandeep is National Sports Editor based in Delhi