Do we ever think of those cricketers who missed out on selection because of stalwarts ? Or those who did not get enough chances to make their mark as Test players?
I tried to select what I call “My almost there Indian Test 11”. Selection criteria is players I have seen, who have not played Test cricket or have played less than 25 Test matches. Hence legends like Padmakar Shivalkar and Rajinder Goel are not in this list.
Shiv Sundar Das and Aakash Chopra are both classical openers. Das who played only 23 Tests is the very definition of what Sunny Gavaskar has said about Test Cricket – “Give the 1st hour to bowlers, next 5 hours is yours”. Greg Chappell was on record that Das was the fittest Indian cricketer. He held his own against an Australian attack led by Mcgrath and a South African attack led by Pollock. After only one average series versus West Indies he was dropped from the playing 11. In England however he did not play a single Test and thereafter did not get a chance. Sadly, his last knock for team India was 253 versus Essex, perhaps the last to hit a Double hundred in England.
Aakash Chopra was the perfect foil to dasher Virendra Sehwag. He played only Ten Tests and was unlucky not to continue for long, A failed experiment to have Yuvraj as opener followed by successful discovery of long term player Gautam Gambhir saw Aakash out of the squad. He has since discovered his calling in the world of media.
Middle order bats: Amol Mazumdar, Yere Goud, Praveen Amre and Mohd Kaif ( Captain)
Amol was the schoolboy with pads on when Sachin and Kambli scripted a 664 run record partnership. He started his Ranji career with a glorious 260 and went on to score more than 11000 First class runs @48 with 30 tons but was definitely unlucky to play for India not even once. Just his bad luck that Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly chose the same time to play for India
Yere Goud was called the Rahul Dravid of Railways team by Javagal Srinath. He had more than 7500 Ranji Trophy runs @45 with 16 tons but was unlucky not to play for India.
Amre made his Test debut for India at 24 and scored a century on debut in hostile Durban. Yet, only 1 year later, he played the last of his 11 Tests for India. What a huge loss that this talented cricketer could not play more Tests.
Mohd Kaif is one of the 3 Successful U-19 World Cup winning Indian Captains. He will always be remembered for his 75 ball 87 which helped India chase down 326 in 2002 Natwest Final. Kaif played only 13 Tests for India and promised much but could not continue. He had a match-saving 91 vs England and a 148 not out vs West Indies at St Lucia. Interesting aside is that in the press conference which followed Kaif’s 148, MS Dhoni sat with the reporters and had asked him how he will celebrate his ton. Kaif replied that he will do so only if India wins the Test Match. Sad that this team man could not play long for India
Wicket keeper. Sadanand Vishwanath starred in the 1985 World Championship of cricket. He was mesmerising and Aussie media prophesized that he will be India’s best ever. He unfortunately faded away after only 3 Tests and was replaced by Kiran More and Chandrakant Pandit.
Pace bowlers Munaf Patel, Vivek Razdan and Subrato Bannerjee .
Munaf who played just 13 Tests had both pace and control. He played a crucial role in 2011 World Cup, but could not play more Tests. Razdan too played just 2 Tests and in his second took 5-79 vs Pakistan in Pakistan. How strange that he took 5 wickets in his last Test innings and was dropped thereafter. Subroto Bannerjee played just One Test match and bowled in 1 innings taking 3 wicket, that too those of Mark Waugh, Mark Taylor and Geoff Marsh. He never played for India again. How unlucky can that be?
Spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishna is in by edging out Narendra Hirwani. Siva’s most famous moment in cricketing history is getting Javed Miandad out stumped by Vishwanath in the 1985World Championship of Cricket tournament. He played Test cricket at 17, but could play only 9 Tests. I feel he could have been a mega star but it was not to be.
Do you agree with my “Almost 11” What’s yours ?