Jun 3, 2020
In the era of Covid-19, the cricket calendar will need be redrawn and there will be a crush to fit in all the fixtures that were deferred. It has even been suggested that two formats could be played at the same time. While that may not actually happen, it throws up some intriguing selection questions.
How would the three best-resourced sides in the world – England, India and Australia – fare in having two teams play at the same time in a Test and T20I?
India: Global cricket experts have spoken highly of India’s talent pool, which they feel is unrivalled. Although India have never fielded two international teams at the same time, the BCCI has not ruled out such a possibility, especially since it wants to prioritise bilateral cricket in the wake of the pandemic. We asked two former chairmen of the national selection panel, Kiran More and MSK Prasad, and former India fast bowler Ajit Agarkar to pick two teams from the available bench.
Kiran More: I did toy with the idea of having Rohit [Sharma] lead the T20I team, but then I have always preferred experience in Test squads. He was injured during the New Zealand tour this year and India’s batting struggled in his absence. Prithvi [Shaw], his replacement, is still new to international cricket and having him open with Mayank [Agarwal], it adds pressure to the middle order, as was evident in New Zealand. Rohit provides both heft as well as balance in the top order
The other selection I had to think twice about was picking Rishabh Pant over Wriddhiman Saha. Eventually I went for Pant because of his batting, mainly. He got centuries on the away tours to England and Australia, two of the toughest places to bat. Coming in at No. 7, he can just go and smash the bowling and change the scenario of a match. He has proved to be a very dangerous batsman. He did have teething problems with his keeping initially, but he is more mature now. Whatever people say, he has got 61 dismissals in 13 Test matches. Those are good numbers. Saha no doubt is a top wicketkeeper and good on Indian pitches, but with Pant, if we give him more chances he will get better and will be there for the next decade. And he provides balance to the overall batting order.
As for the T20 set, KL [Rahul] is well equipped to lead the team and he will keep wicket. He will also be the opener with Shikhar [Dhawan], with [Sanju] Samson at one-down.
MSK Prasad: Because of the ongoing World Test Championship I thought we should give priority to Test squads rather than distributing the top players into two different squads. This way we also bring in the fringe players who are on the probable list for T20 World Cup.
As far as the selections went, all 12 picked themselves. In the T20Is, KL [Rahul] will be captain and wicketkeeper along with Bhuvneshwar [Kumar] as his deputy. Ideally I would have wanted to pick 13 so I could pick Prithvi [Shaw] as a third opener in Tests and Sanju Samson for the T20Is.
Ajit Agarkar: Obviously thinking of the T20 World Cup has factored into my selections. So [Jasprit] Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar [Kumar], if he is at his best, and the two wristspinners are the bowling attack in the T20I team. The batting in T20 may be a bit thin with Kohli in the Test team, but think it’s much easier to cope in T20s than Tests. [Ravindra] Jadeja’s improved batting is the reason for more responsibility for him, and he provides a spin-bowling option when needed, with the big grounds in Australia.
The Test team is fairly straightforward. With Hardik [Pandya] in the T20I team, I have gone for the extra batsman, especially when India travel. Could always bring in an extra spinner in India.
Although I have put Shubman Gill in as the 12th name, I would be looking to start with him, whether it’s opening or in the middle order. From everything we have seen, he seems to be the future, and he has been warming the bench for far too long.