With the Indian Test team now at the summit , (we are now No.1 ) , let’s take a pause from celebrating , and ask a pertinent question, where’s the next generation of players, who will keep India at the top?
The Big 3, namely Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid will soon be retiring within the next 2 years. Sehwag will then be the elder statesman of the team; I wonder if that will have an impact on his batting style. Will he still be as care-free? I have a feeling he will. He’s more in the Viv Richards/Srikkanth mold in terms of his persona; as long as he can score he’ll play else he might even retire early. The last 2 batsmen to retire early i.e. in their early 30s, were Sanjay Manjrekar and Ravi Shastri. Shastri probably has no regrets ; he made his debut for India at 19. For a man of his limited talents, he was an overachiever. To start as No. 11 and end as the opener must be a record of sorts.
So who do we have to replace Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar?
Murali Vijay has made the most of the limited opportunities he has been given. With an eye on the future , he can be the No.3 bat for a long time if he plays to potential. The top 3 slots can then rotate amongst Gambhir, Sehwag and Vijay.
Wasim Jaffer , though already in his early 30s, might be another one who deserves a second or third chance. Remember even Australia, when phasing out their No.1 side, opted for players in their 30s before making a clean break over the past 1 year. So Jaffer cannot be ruled out.
So who’ll take Tendulkar’s place? On the weight of sheer talent itself, Rohit Sharma comes to mind. He has impressed one and all when he has put his mind to it. If he can be a bit more consistent , he can cement his place in the Indian side.
As for the contenders for Laxman’s place, there’s Uthappa, maybe a comeback from Kaif, though unlikely, Dinesh karthik perhaps, and in all likelihood, Suresh Raina but no other batsman springs to mind. None of the other T20 and ODI players selected seem like good bets for Test cricket. So there is a possibility that this Indian side can go the Australia way, (i.e. from world beaters to struggling to remain the best) , if we do not unearth gems who can adorn Indian cricket’s showcase over the next decade and a half!
Your thoughts and comments are welcome!