These days, almost all the Indian cricketers from seniors to youngsters are busy playing in international or domestic leagues. Too much of domestic cricket is being played at the moment; and everyone has just either of the two things in their mind - how to make a comeback or how to cement their place in the national side? While out of favour cricketers are worried about the first question; the latter one is in the minds of youngsters. But the best part is that everyone is getting equal opportunity to prove themselves, courtesy plethora of domestic and international tournaments.
It’s certainly a packed season for Indian cricketers -- Champions League T20 is in its initial stages where four franchises of IPL are participating, India A are playing against West Indies A at home, India Blue, India Red and Delhi are playing Challenger Trophy. And if that is not enough, then India U-19 team is also playing 50-over quadrennial tournament in Visakhapatnam.
Nine teams from India are playing cricket at the moment in different leagues and formats, which means more than 100 cricketers are busy proving their mettle. Now that’s a rare sight in Indian cricket.
In gentlemen’s game, there is an old saying: ‘Always judge a team from its bench strength not from its playing XI.’ And if we look at the current Indian team, apart from strong bench strength, look at the efforts being made by discarded cricketers to get back into the main fold. From Zaheer Khan to Yuvraj Singh to Gautam Gambhir to Virender Sehwag to Harbhajan Singh – each one is trying hard to get back into the reckoning.
If Yuvraj and Zaheer went to France to attend a strenuous six-week fitness camp under the guidance of a world renowned expert, then Gauti is playing County cricket for Essesx to get his form back. The ‘turbunator’ Harbhajan Singh, who is the highest wicket taking Indian spinner after Anil Kumble in Tests, is also playing for Mumbai Indians in the on-going Champions League T20. Swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag will be hoping to play some big knocks while representing Delhi in the Challenger Trophy, which will lock horns with India Blue and India Red -- to knock on the selectors’ door.
On one side, if senior pros will try to hog all the limelight, on the other, youngsters will try not to miss any single opportunity to excel and outshine their senior counterparts. Competition is getting tougher with every passing day. So, the real test has started for Indian cricketers and that too just before the high-profile seven-match ODI series with Australia at home.
Youngsters have age on their side and they might get a plenty of chances to prove themselves in the years to come, but for the old warhorses it would be make or break scenario, as all these dejected players have crossed the 30-year-mark and their best is certainly behind them. But as they say ‘When the going gets tough, the tough gets going’, it would be a stern test for most of the dejected cricketers to deliver and make a cameback into national team.
The hard-hitting southpaw, Yuvraj Singh has certainly proved that there is still a lot of cricket left in him while captaining the India A side in the recently concluded unofficial ODI series and one off T20 match against West Indies A by playing a couple of match-winning knocks. But he has to maintain this consistency while playing in the Challengers Trophy as well.
Having such a stiff competition between so many talented players is always a win-win situation for any cricket playing nation, but if we flip the coin, then it’s the toughest time for the national selectors and skipper to decide which player to pick and whom to drop. Whatever it might be, but arguably the busiest cricketing season in India is definitely going to make or break the hearts of many cricketers.